New Jersey recently enacted legislation that requires pre-suit disclosures by insurers of policy limits. Under the new law, N.J.S.A. 39:6B-1.1, insurers are now required to disclose their policy limits in response to a written request for such information from a New Jersey-licensed attorney, even if the matter is not yet in suit. The statute is currently in effect.
New Jersey already has a pre-suit insurance disclosure statute N.J.S.A. 39:6A-13.2. However, whereas that statute applies only to private passenger automobile insurance policies, the new statute broadly applies to “all applicable insurance policies and any applicable umbrella or excess liability insurance policies issued by the insurer to the insured.” The new law requires written disclosure of policy limits for applicable policies within 30 days of the insurer’s receipt of the disclosure request.
The statute requires that specific criteria be included in the disclosure request to trigger the insurer’s obligations to provide its policy limits. Specifically, the request must be in writing, be from an attorney licensed to practice law in New Jersey, and include each of the following:
Additionally, where the claim at issue involves a motor vehicle accident, the disclosure request also must include the claimant’s:
Notably, while the new statute requires the disclosure of the insurance policy’s limits, it does not require the disclosure of the policy itself, or the Declarations Pages. Further, the new statute does not require an insurer to provide any additional information other than policy limit, such as the persons/entities insured under the policy/policies or information regarding erosion of limits.
Importantly, disclosure of the policy limit does not need to be provided via affidavit or sworn statement, as is common in other states’ pre-suit disclosure laws, and the disclosure does not constitute an admission that the alleged injury or damage is covered under the policy. Information concerning the insurance policy is not admissible as evidence at trial by virtue of the disclosure, and in fact, the disclosure must be kept confidential by the claimant, their attorney, and personnel in the attorney’s office.
Finally, each insurer issuing applicable policies in New Jersey must provide the New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance an e-mail address, which DOBI will publish on its website for the purpose of receiving requests for policy limit disclosures pursuant to the law. This aspect of the statute goes into effect October 4, 2022.
Please do not hesitate to contact Goldberg Segalla’s Global Insurance Services attorneys with any questions concerning this new legislation.