Much has been written—in this space and elsewhere—about the rules and practical considerations governing disclaimers/denials of insurance coverage pursuant to the disclaimer statute, Insurance Law §3420(d)(2) (formerly known as §3420(d)). The situation most often discussed is the common one in which notice of the accident and/or claim is given to the insurer by the insured or the injured party, and the disclaimer is, in accordance with the terms of the statute, issued by the insurer “to the insured and the injured person or any other claimant.” (Ins. L. §3420(d)(2) provides as follows: “If under a liability policy issued or delivered in this state, an insurer shall disclaim liability or deny coverage for death or bodily injury arising out of a motor vehicle accident or any other type of accident occurring within this state, it shall give written notice as soon as is reasonably possible of such disclaimer of liability or denial of coverage to the insured and the injured person or any other claimant.”) In some cases, however, notice of the claim is given to the insurer by another insurance company, rather than by the insured or the injured party. The question of whether the same considerations and obligations apply in that situation has occupied numerous courts in several different contexts.
It is well-settled that “the Legislature enacted §3420(d)(2) ‘to aid injured parties’ by encouraging the expeditious resolution of liability claims [citations omitted].” KeySpan Gas East v. Munich Reins. Am., 23 N.Y.3d 583 (2014). As earlier enunciated by the First Department in Bovis Lend Lease LMB v. Royal Surplus Lines Ins. Co., 27 A.D.3d 84 (1st Dep’t 2005), “The purpose of §3420(d) is to ‘protect the insured, the injured person, and any other interested party who has a real stake in the outcome, from being prejudiced by a belated denial of coverage’ [citation omitted] … . It is clear that the notice requirement of §3420(d) is designed to protect the insured, and the injured person or other claimant against the risk, posed by a delay in learning the insurer’s position, of expending energy and resources in an ultimately futile attempt to recover damages from an insurer or forgoing alternative methods for recovering damages until it is too late to pursue them successfully [citation omitted].” 27 A.D.3d at 91, 92.