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Posts on Jan 1970

When a Policy Limits Demand can be Abusive

Demands for insurance policy limits frequently generate substantial concern for  insurers.  A properly executed policy limits demand that is rejected by an insurer will “open the policy” and expose the insurer to liability in excess of its policy limits.  The timing and form of the demand, however, are as important as the demand itself.

A policy limits demand must meet five criteria before a court is likely to hold that an insurer acted in bad faith in rejecting the demand:

  • The settlement terms must be clear enough to create an enforceable contract if accepted. Coe v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 66 Cal.App.3d 981, 991 (1977);
  • All claimants must join in the settlement demand. Coe, 66 Cal.App.3d at 992-93;
  • All insureds must be released. Strauss v. Farmers Ins. Exch., 26 Cal.App.4th 1017, 1021 (1994);
  • The settlement amount demanded must be both within policy limits and “reasonable.” Comunale v. Traders & General Ins. Co., 50 Cal.2d 654, 661 (Cal. 1958); and
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Emilie speaking on the Fair Pay Act.
New California Fair Pay Act Adds Confusion and Incites Litigation

The Fair Pay Act (“FPA”), which goes into effect on January 1, 2016, requires employers to pay male and female employees the same for “substantially similar work” under “similar working conditions,” even if those employees work in different establishments.  The FPA also prohibits employer retaliation against employees for disclosing their wages, discussing the wages of others, inquiring about another employee’s wages, or aiding or encouraging any other employee to exercise his or her rights under the law.

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Major Shift of Certain Real Property Transfers Signed into Law

Recently signed legislation allows for the transfer of real property upon death through what is touted to be, under certain circumstances, a more streamlined and simple process, without the typical probate proceedings. Historically, many assets, such as stocks or bank accounts and even possessions, could be passed on to an identified beneficiary through the completion of a ‘Payable on Death’ or ‘Transfer on Death’ form (POD or TOD, respectively). The new legislation, AB 139, permits a similar transfer of real property, such as a house, land or other type of building, upon the death of an owner through the same process. AB 139 is effective now through January 1, 2021 (there is a five year test period to gauge the law’s impact).

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