Updates to our Terms of Use

We are updating our Terms of Use. Please carefully review the updated Terms before proceeding to our website.

Tuesday, June 18, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Insure Insurance

Insurance insurance.

I kind of like the sound of that. There's something, oh, I don't know, assuring about it. Or maybe insuring.

I bring up this seemingly redundant phrase because I think it's an obvious and fabulous idea and I can't imagine why no one has attempted to market it yet.

We need insurance against insurance companies.

This is a seasonal concept. Last year in Southern California we had one of those recurring wildfire seasons with lots of homes being damaged or destroyed.

This year we're having one of those recurring litigation seasons with lots of plaintiffs suing their insurance companies for not paying for the damage or destruction of their homes.

It's a fun tradition - particularly fun for lawyers - but not an inevitable one. A homeowner should be insured against the hazard of insurance companies balking at paying off under their policies. It's a reasonably foreseeable risk. It should be required in mortgage agreements.

I know some of you are coming up with objections to this idea.

What happens, for example, if the insurance insurer refuses to pay off? Are we going to need insurance insurance insurance?

And then insurance insurance insurance insurance infinity? (I'm picturing Pee Wee Herman saying this.)

Possibly. It is an entertaining concept and would be wonderful for lawyers.

But I don't think it will happen. We're talking classic economics here - motivation by incentive.

Oh sure, insurance insurers could refuse to pay off - they could claim you had a pre-existing unreliable liability insurer - but it wouldn't be good business. No one would buy insurance insurance if that started happening.

No. It makes more sense for insurance insurers to pay their policyholders - and then subrogate against the liability insurers. Then homeowners can sit back and enjoy watching years of entertaining litigation between tenacious insurance companies.

You keep lawyers employed, you keep homeowners relatively happy while they rebuild, and you make liability insurers maybe give a thought to paying off on their policies instead of looking for loopholes.

But what about the cost of having to buy two insurance policies? Peace of mind doesn't come cheap and lawyers need to be paid.

Here's my solution: contingency insurance. You get the coverage for free and the insurance insurer only has to pay you, say, 75% of your damages if the liability insurer doesn't pay off. Then the insurance insurer can make a profit going after the liability insurer.

I really should go into business.

MERITLESS POLLING. An outfit called the U. S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform, which apparently is an affiliate of the U. S. Chamber of Commerce, has announced the results of a survey "that reveals 88% of voters who cast ballots in Tuesday's election believe there are too many 'meritless' lawsuits, while eight out of ten want the next Congress to continue reforming the legal system."

There's no explanation of how all these people know how many meritless lawsuits there are. Maybe the pollsters told them.

And, oddly, as far as I can tell, the poll didn't include any questions about whether those voters would refrain from suing if they were injured.

Or how happy they'd be if they couldn't sue under a reformed legal system.

But maybe they'd be happier if insurance covered all their injuries.

And insurance insurance covered their recoveries.

Categories / Uncategorized

Subscribe to Closing Arguments

Sign up for new weekly newsletter Closing Arguments to get the latest about ongoing trials, major litigation and hot cases and rulings in courthouses around the U.S. and the world.