Policyholder and Victim Guidance
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo signed the Child Victims Act (“CVA”) into law on February 14, 2019. Among other things, the CVA extended the time for those who were victims of sexual abuse to file civil lawsuits and opened a one-year window (beginning August 14, 2019) for previously time-barred legal claims. Victims may sue or employ alternative dispute resolution methods to pursue legal claims against alleged perpetrators, organizations that employed the alleged perpetrators at the time of the abuse, and other persons or organizations that might be held responsible for the abusive acts and the harm the acts caused.
Some of the defendants in such cases may have had insurance policies in force at the time of such occurrences that may provide coverage for part or all of the damages awarded through the legal claims, and insurers may have a duty to defend under certain policies.
Certain legal claims now arising are based on acts that occurred years -- or even decades – ago. If a policy relevant to a CVA-related claim cannot be located, other records may provide evidence of insurance coverage (such as letters or other correspondence, certificates of insurance, or any other documents describing the relevant coverage).
The Department of Financial Services (“Department”) issued a Circular Letter to the insurance industry on September 5, 2019 reminding the industry to exercise good faith and fair practices in connection with CVA-related claims and encouraging increased records retention to aid potential CVA-related legal claims. In cases of lost insurance policies, the Department requested that insurers and other regulated entities consider other evidence that they, policyholders, or victims are able to produce to determine the relevant policy details.
The Department would like to remind policyholders and victims that the Department may be a helpful resource. If you are a policyholder having trouble contacting the company that issued your policy, you can contact us. We will work to assist you in determining whether a company still exists with liability on your policy and how to contact it, including if it changed names or merged into another company.
The Department’s consumer hotline is available Monday through Friday, 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM, at (800) 342-3736, and emails can be sent to [email protected].
This guidance is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. If you require advice on legal matters, you should contact a licensed attorney.