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New Hampshire

What Is The Time for Responding to a Defense Tender?

Insurers must acknowledge a claim within 10 days of receipt.  N.H. Code Admin. R. § 1001.01.

Insurers must affirm or deny coverage within 30 days of receipt of proof of loss.  N.H. Code Admin. R. § 1001.02.

Does Reserving Rights Create a Conflict of Interest? 

No cases found.

Does a Reservation of Rights Create Additional Duties?

No cases found.

What Must Be Done If A Conflict of Interest Exists?

If a conflict of interest exists between an insured and an insurer, the insurer cannot control the insured’s defense, White Mountain Construction Co., Inc. v. Transamerica Ins. Co., 631 A.2d 907, 910, 912-913 (1993).

Who Is Responsible for Fees of Independent Counsel?

No cases found.

What Are Independent Counsel’s Obligations?

No cases found.

What Settlement Duties Exist?

No cases found.

What Actions May Result in a Claim for Bad Faith?

An insured may bring a cause of action against the insurer for a violation the Unfair Insurance Trade Practices Act, but only after the Insurance Commissioner had found a practice to have violated the chapter. N.H. Rev. Stat. § 417:19.

An insured can sue in negligence for failure to settle a third party claim. Dumas v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co. Inc., 274 A.2d 781, 783 (N.H. 1971).

New Hampshire recognizes, common law cause of action sounding in contract for the breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing. Lawton v. Great Southwest Fire Ins. Co., 392 A.2d 576, 612 (N.H. 1978).

Are Attorney’s Fees Recoverable in Insurer-Insured Dispute?

Attorneys’ fees are recoverable by a successful litigant under the Unfair Insurance Trade Practices Act.  N.H. Rev. Stat. § 417:20 (III).

Attorney’s fees are also recoverable if an insurer acts in bad faith by advancing unnecessary litigation.  Lawton v. Great Southwest Fire Ins. Co., 392 A.2d 576, 612 (N.H. 1978).

Are Punitive Damages Recoverable in Insurer-Insured Dispute?

No cases found.

Alternative Coverage Options

When a conflict of interest would prevent the insurance company from managing the insured’s defense in the underlying tort suit, a declaratory judgment action is appropriate to determine the insurer’s duty to defend.  Metropolitan Property & Liab. Ins. Co. v. Kirkwood, 729 F.2d 61, 63 (1st Cir. 1984).

Relevant Statutes

Declaratory Judgment – N.H. Rev. Stat. § 491:22I

“Any person claiming a present legal or equitable right or title may maintain a petition against any person claiming adversely to such right or title to determine the question as between the parties, and the court’s judgment or decree thereon shall be conclusive.  The existence of an adequate remedy at law or in equity shall not preclude any person from obtaining such declaratory relief.  However, the provisions of this paragraph shall not affect the burden of proof under N.H. Rev. Stat 491:22-a or permit awards of costs and attorney’s fees under N.H. Rev. Stat. 491:22-b in declaratory judgment actions that are not for the purpose of determining insurance coverage.”

Unfair Insurance Trade Practices ActN.H. Rev. Stat. § 417:19.

Unfair Claim Settlement Practices Act – N.H. Rev. Stat.§ 417:4.

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