Craft v. Phila. Indem. Ins. Co.Annotate this Case
The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals certified a question of Colorado law to the Colorado Supreme Court. An insurer issued a policy that provided directors and officers of a company liability coverage. The policy required the insured to give prompt notice of a claim, specifically, notice "as soon as practicable" after learning of the claim. The policy also required the insured to give notice of the claim by a date certain (not later than 60 days after the expiration of the policy). Near the end of the one-year policy, a company officer was sued for alleged misrepresentations he made during a merger. Unaware of the insurance policy, the officer defended himself against the suit. When he learned of the policy, approximately sixteen months after the policy had expired, he contacted the insurer. The underlying suit was settled. The officer then sued the insurer for denying coverage under the policy. The insurer removed the case to the federal district court, and then moved to dismiss on grounds that the officer's claim was untimely. The issue of Colorado law before the Tenth Circuit centered on the "notice-prejudice" rule to claims-made insurance policies: (1) whether the notice-prejudice rule applied to claims-made liability policies in general; and (2) if so, whether the rule applied to both types of notice requirements in those policies. The Colorado Court answered the certified questions more narrowly than originally presented because the parties agreed that the prompt notice requirement of the claims-made policy in this case was not at issue. The Colorado Court's analysis was restricted to the date-certain notice requirement. The Court held that the notice-prejudice rule did not apply to date-certain notice requirement in a claims-made insurance policy. In a claims-made policy, the date-certain notice defines the scope of coverage ("to excuse late notice in violation of such a requirement would rewrite a fundamental term of the insurance contract.") The Court reframed the certified questions as a single question: whether the notice-prejudice rule applies to the date-certain notice requirement of claims-made policies, to which the Colorado Court answered in the negative.