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Opioid Insurance Coverage Issues

April 21, 2022 at 12:00pm
Shanti Eagle
International Institute for Conflict Prevention & Resolution

Shanti Eagle is a speaker at the International Institute for Conflict Prevention & Resolution's Insurance Committee Meeting program “Opioid Insurance Coverage Issues."

Opioid Insurance Coverage Issues:

2020 was the deadliest year to date for opioid overdoses in North America, totaling more than 76,000. Simultaneously, opioid litigation is in full swing, and insurers are making difficult decisions about settlement, trials, and coverage. In 2021, prescription opioid manufactures prevailed in one of the first California trials. The Court found “there is simply no evidence to show that the rise in prescriptions was not the result of the medically appropriate provision of pain medications to patients in need.” In 2022, the opioid coverage litigation is expected to rachet up following the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals decision overturning of an injunction preventing insurers from pursing coverage litigation in California.

Against this backdrop, the insurance coverage asked to fund most settlements are now in focus. It is crucial to get ahead of the most pressing coverage issues driving the anticipated surge of coverage litigation. This panel will discuss the recent decisions and pending cases that are expected to provide further guidance on the most burning opioid coverage questions.

  • Are municipal costs to combat the opioid epidemic “for” or “because of” bodily injury, which is the typical language either to trigger CGL coverage or to exclude coverage under non-CGL policies?
  • Are the damages the result of intentional conduct; do they constitute an “occurrence”?
  • Are newer insurance policies absolved under loss-in-progress provisions?
  • Do opioid losses fall within product exclusions?
  • How Self-Insured Retentions could affect the interplay of policies?

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