Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Timeliness of EUO Requests

This morning brings us the Appellate Term, 2d Department's decision in Great Wall Acupuncture, P.C. v. New York Central Mutual Insurance Company, 2009 NYSlipOp 50224(U) (App. Term, 2d Dep't, 2009).

In a summary judgment motion, "defendant asserted that it timely denied plaintiff's claims based on plaintiff's owner's failure to appear for scheduled examinations under oath (EUOs)." Id. However, the Appellate Term found that "defendant failed to timely request the EUO after receiving plaintiff's bills." Id. As a result, they held that "defendant is precluded from, inter alia, relying upon plaintiff's failure to appear at an EUO as a defense to this action." Id.

The App. Term has thus established a sharp contrast between EUO requests and IMEs. As the App. Div. held in Stephen Fogel Psychological, P.C. v. Progressive Cas. Ins. Co., 35 A.D.3d 720 (2d Dep't, 2006), "an insurer may deny a claim retroactively to the date of loss for a claimant's failure to attend IMEs when, and as often as, the insurer may reasonably require." (Internal quotation marks omitted). Such retroactive denial is not available for EUOs that are not requested under the verification time frames, and a failure to attend untimely-requested EUOs is apparently not a coverage issue.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

LMK Update

The newly-shaven David M. Gottlieb, Esq. has a great post over at No-Fault Paradise about the oral arguments before in the Court of Appeals in LMK Psychological Servs., P.C. v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 46 A.D.3d 1290 (3d Dep't, 2007)

Based on David's post, both State Farm/Rivkin Radler and the Insurance Dep't. appear to be in The Twilight Zone. When it comes to interest, the argument is that providers should file suit immediately once a claim is denied and/or overdue. When it comes to attorney's fees, however, providers should apparently wait until all treatment is finished to consolidate all bills into a single suit to avoid exhausting the attorney's fees.

And, really, let's be honest: the concept of "exhaustion" of attorney's fees is just made up. They invented it out of nowhere for this litigation. Just look at the provisions concerning attorney's fees in the Regs:

11 NYCRR § 65-4.6(b)(1) provides that, in a specific scenario, "[i]f the resolved claim was initially denied, the attorney’s fee shall be $80." § 65-4.6(b)(2) provides "[i]f the resolved claim was overdue but not denied, the attorney’s fee shall not exceed..." The word "claim" in these provisions only makes sense if a claim is an individual bill. Otherwise, each "claim" could have a mixture of bills that were denied and not denied, and these provisions would write themselves out of existence.

Moreover, § 65-4.6(e) provides that "[f]or all other disputes subject to arbitration, subject to the provisions of subdivisions (a) and (c) of this section, the attorney’s fee shall be limited as follows: 20 percent of the amount of first-party benefits, plus interest thereon, awarded by the arbitrator or court, subject to a maximum fee of $850." Thus, at a minimum, each time a court or arbitrator resolves a matter and grants payment to the provider, there is a maximum of $850. There is no "coverage limit" of $850 in attorneys per patient, per provider. This appears nowhere in the Insurance Law, the Mandatory PIP Endorsement, or anywhere else in the Regs.

It is disappointing, but not surprising, that a carrier would attempt to fabricate a new category of coverage limit where none actually exists.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Fraud in the Procurement, Part 2

The Appellate Division, 4th Department has issued a decision today that is relevant to my post last week regarding the defense of fraudulent procurement.

At the end of that post, I noted that "procurement is fraudulent where there are material misrepresentations and, had the carrier had known the truth, the policy would not have otherwise been issued." I failed to give a citation for this proposition, but the 4th Department has given me a fresh case to cite to.

In Rafi v Rutgers Cas. Ins. Co., the Court holds that "in order to prevail on its affirmative defense, defendant was required to submit proof concerning its underwriting practices with respect to applicants with similar circumstances in order to meet its burden of establishing that it would not have issued the same policy had the correct information been included in the application." 2009 NYSlipOp 00905 (4th Dep't, 2009) (internal quotation marks omitted).

Do note, though, that Rafi does not appear to concern an automobile insurance policy. As such, the reference in that decision to the policy being "void ab initio" due to material misrepresentation is inapplicable to no-fault (and other automobile insurance) litigation. That said, the definition provided in Rafi of what qualifies as a material misrepresentation made in the procurement of the policy should still apply to auto policies.

Where the misrepresentation concerns the insured's state of residence, as is typical allegation in no-fault litigation, this is presumably a simple burden for the carrier to meet. That is, where the insured lives in Queens, but procures an automobile insurance policy with the carrier by falsely stating that she lives in Pennsylvania, the carrier should easily be able to produce an affidavit from underwriting stating that the carrier would never have issued a Pennsylvania policy (which has its own set of specific provisions that comply with PA law) to a New York resident. Instead, the affidavit would presumably allege, had the carrier known the truth, the carrier would have either issued a different policy (that complied with New York law) or no policy at all.

Thursday, February 05, 2009


The Appellate Term's decision in A.B. Med. Servs., PLLC v. Country-Wide Ins. Co., 2008 NYSlipOp 52651(U) (App. Term, 2d Dep't, 2008) was posted today.

The decision is kind of messy, covering various issues briefly, but there's one interesting point. The Appellate Term found the following: "Since the affidavit of defendant's no-fault litigation supervisor lacks specificity to support the assertion that defendant did not receive the verification it requested, it was insufficient to establish that the verification was still outstanding and, thus, that defendant's time to pay or deny the claims was tolled."

I'm not sure what this means, and I can't find this language in prior no-fault decisions. What level of specificity is now required in a claim rep's affidavit to establish that requested verification was not received? Is it not enough for the rep to simply state that the verification was never received?

In any event, it appears that the Appellate Term has opened up a new avenue of attack on insurers' affidavits.