We are committed to providing general insurance advice to insurers, reinsurers and corporates.
The general insurance team has operated a dedicated insurance practice for more than 70 years and now sits on the legal panels of three of Australia’s top four general insurers.
Through our close working relationships with our insurance clients, we understand the complexities of the Australian and London insurance markets. Our approach to claims management provides cost-effective and personalised legal services, which are supported by Smarter Law solutions and a structured approach to early claims resolution across our national team.
We advise on and manage litigated claims for a number of major general insurers, underwriters and self-insured corporations. These include claims ranging from the highly complex and technically challenging, through to simpler, volume-driven claims. We advise on policy wording and regulatory/legal issues, as well as manage claims recovery and settlement strategies and actions. We also provide coverage advice to insurers for complex claims involving professional indemnity and liability policies and corporate insurance programs.
Our clients include Allianz Australia, QBE, Insurance Australia Group (IAG), underwriting agencies and leading Lloyd’s of London Syndicates. More broadly, we have also advised many financial services institutions, including listed public companies, large private businesses and government departments.
Our key practice areas are:
- professional indemnity – financial lines (accountants, insolvency practitioners, financial planners, valuers, estate agents, insurance and business brokers), engineering and other consultants associated with construction risks, property environmental risks, allied health professionals and other professionals
- directors & officers, management liability, employment practices liability and cyber liability
- general liability – public liability, product liability, property/ISR including expertise in analysing and managing issues such as timing of loss (manifestation of damage), component part analysis, resultant loss and competing cause losses
- subrogated recoveries, including class action recoveries
- policy interpretation backed by an excellent knowledge of the Insurance Contracts Act 1984 (Cth), including drafting entire policies and PDS statements for clients
- fraud and FOS claims
- medical malpractice and allied health, and
- claims ranging from highly complex and technically challenging, through to volume-driven claims including portfolios with large retentions.
- Acting for a head contractor in six separate sets of proceedings in the Supreme Court, arising from an industrial accident that caused the death of one man and injured five others (including crush injuries, spinal injuries, scarring and amputations). There were associated compensation to relatives and nervous shock claims, 151 Z recovery actions and a WorkCover prosecution.
- Resolving a claim in the Supreme Court of NSW against the Australian importer of motorbikes in relation to extensive burns suffered by a teenage motorbike race rider. The matter involved a complicated cross-claim against the international manufacturer of the motorbike. It was ultimately settled in favour of the importer.
- Acting for a gymnasium sued by a plaintiff rendered a paraplegic after using a barbell that formed part of a weight machine. The injuries included severe psychological injury, neurological, urological and rectal deficit and loss of sexual function. The Supreme Court proceedings resolved at mediation and we were able to avoid a costly and lengthy trial.
- Successfully defending an insurer in upholding a policy which enlivened standard form exclusion, in circumstances where an incorrect policy had been accidentally issued by an intermediary. In this case, we co-ordinated evidence from a Lloyds based witness who gave evidence by video link from the UK. See McManus v Tevita & Ors (Unreported, DC NSW, 11 May 2011).
- Successfully defending a claim against a Returned and Services League (RSL) club in defence of a claim for assault by one patron gainst another, resulting in brain damage and proceedings brought in the Supreme Court of New South Wales against the club, the security guards and the assailant. See Rooty Hill RSL Club Ltd v Karimi  NSWCA 2.
- Acting for a gymnasium in resolving a complex personal injury claim including allegations of subsequent negligent treatment by the hospital resulting in serious personal injury.
- Acting for and providing advice to churches and schools with regard to personal injury claims/pure mental harm claims, including sensitive claims involving minors.
- Acting in a successful Supreme Court strike-out application for a geotechnical engineer concerning a 124-unit residential development with considerable seven-figure damages.
- Successfully defending a multi-party dispute for a national electrical engineering consultancy involving the installation of multiple generators for a data centre.
- Defending construction engineers on a number of occasions in multi-party disputes involving the construction of grandstands at football stadiums.
- Acting for various national valuation practices and/or underwriters on multiple claims in the Federal Court and various Supreme Court jurisdictions for allegedly negligent valuation advice relied on for mortgage purposes.
- Successfully defending a Lloyds Syndicate and following markets in a disputed coverage claim brought by an insured insurance broker over a matter said to be excluded by reason of a standard insolvency of insurer exclusion: Prestige Insurance Brokers v Certain Underwriters at Lloyds  NSWSC 793.
- Acting on behalf of insurers to defend a variety of claims involving accountants. These include off shore superannuation funds and capital gains tax, preparation of prospectuses and market accounts, year-end accounts and financial planning and taxation strategies.
- Acting in cases involving professional indemnity claims against barristers – we have been involved in seminal cases and have acted in cases which test almost all facets of barristers’ liability.
- Acting for beauticians/massage therapists in defence of personal injury claims.
- Advising and acting for church employees and teachers in defamation claims and allegations of misconduct. This includes dealing with publication issues and media attention.
- Acting for QBE for claims made as a result of the Kilmore East bushfire, one of six significant fires in Victoria on ‘Black Saturday’ in 2009. This resulted in several class actions, with Kilmore East being the biggest and most complex in Australian legal history.
- Acting for QBE in a major fire loss at BestCareFoods, a pet food manufacturing plant in Gunnedah, within 24 hours of what was then suspected to be a major gas or dust explosion which totally destroyed the premises. This decade-long matter included us managing the case and determining liability at the very earliest stages; appearing for QBE and the insured at a resulting Coronial lnquiry; running recovery proceedings in the Supreme Court against Origin Energy for both QBE and the insured; and finally successfully resolving the case on all liability counts in 2011.
- Acting for an insurer to successfully defend a court proceeding brought against an insured for property damage. We advised on highly complex indemnity, liability and quantum issues arising from the collapse of a gantry crane system on a Tasmanian construction site. We are now acting in a recovery action against the manufacturer of the crane.
- Advising on a claim against the insured importer of a clothes dryer, which was implicated in a fire that destroyed a house. We advised from the outset that the insured would be held liable as the importer of the clothes dryer under Australian Consumer Law and obtained instructions to settle the matter to avoid litigation costs. We settled the claim for a substantial discount and then pursued a successful recovery through the manufacturer’s insurer.
- Acting for a home insurer in a recovery proceeding against the insured homeowner, who had serviced an air-cooler shortly before a fire extensively damaged the insured dwelling. We settled this at mediation against an opposing insurer for a payment much lower than originally advanced by our opponent. We received extremely favourable feedback from our client in relation to this result.
- Acting for an insured timber merchant who had imported timber from Malaysia for supply to a caravan manufacturer. The timber had not been properly fumigated and had to be recalled, with a potential $4m plus liability for the insured. We worked closely with the insured to negotiate a workable solution, which has resulted in a litigation-free process and costs to our client of less than $200,000. The claim was efficiently managed and its potential volumes contained, helping the insured preserve its industry reputation and customer relationships.
- Acting for an architect/superintendent in a claim for failure of pre-stressed concrete base of a major warehouse in Sydney.
- Acting for a project manager/superintendent for a claim of defects and incomplete works on a luxury high rise residential development in Sydney’s North Shore.
- Acting for IAG, QBE and Allianz and their customers in seeking compensation for the bushfires which devastated parts of South-Western Victoria on St Patrick’s Day 2018.
Thinking| 06 Feb 2020
In Sergienko v AXL Financial Pty Ltd , a recent win for an insurer, the NSW Supreme Court confirmed the importance of precise and well-constructed pleadings when determining whether leave will be granted pursuant to Section 4 of the Civil Liability (Third Party Claims Against Insurers) Act 2017 (NSW) (the ‘Act’).
Thinking| 12 Nov 2019
A not-for-profit community event organiser has managed to escape liability for catastrophic injuries suffered by a campdraft competitor, by relying on the statutory defences available in the Civil Liability Act 2002 (NSW) (CLA).
Thinking| 24 Oct 2019
The Court found that the defendant horse jockey was not liable for the plaintiff’s injuries after he fell from his horse, because the risk of injury was a materialisation of an obvious risk in a dangerous recreational activity.
Thinking| 12 Sep 2019
On 3 September 2019, the Supreme Court of NSW handed down judgment in three appeals which were heard concurrently. All three appeals dealt with a plaintiff’s entitlement to damages for a replacement vehicle hired following a motor vehicle collision.