Here is a blog post that I stumbled upon that illustrates what I said last week about the difficulties in suing an insurance agent. Most of the Katrina plaintiffs are trying to establish that their policies cover Katrina-related damages, either through the policy language or some alleged oral contract not reflected in the written instrument. Suing an agent for negligence in failing to provide the proper amount or kind of insurance is, of course, not the same thing and is usually a very tough claim to win on. In representing a policyholder, I would prefer every time to sue an insurance company on the contract rather than sue an agent in negligence, unless I had no other choice.
Some people have the mistaken idea that an agent is liable merely because their insurance didn’t cover a loss, and the loss could have been insured. Agents have no affirmative duty to make sure people are optimally insured. Where they can get into trouble, however, is by false statements of fact, by underestimating a home’s value or by failing to procure insurance that was requested. (I should mention that have no idea about the merits of the suit above and nothing in the post is a specific comments about the merits).