Key points to remember
- New New Jersey law requires insurers to disclose policy limits in response to a written request from a licensed New Jersey attorney.
- Broader than the existing pre-suit disclosure law that applies to passenger auto insurance policies, the new law applies to “all applicable insurance policies and all excess or additional applicable”.
- Effective October 4, 2022, each insurer issuing applicable policies in New Jersey must provide DOBI New Jersey with an email address to receive disclosure requests, which DOBI will post on its website.
New Jersey recently enacted a law that requires insurers to disclose policy limits before trial. Under the new law, NJSA 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 case is not yet pending. The law is currently in force.
New Jersey already has a pretrial insurance disclosure law NJSA 39:6A-13.2. However, while this law only applies to private passenger automobile insurance policies, the new law generally applies to “all applicable insurance policies and any umbrella or applicable supplement issued by the insurer to the insured. The new law requires written disclosure of applicable policy limits within 30 days of the insurer’s receipt of the disclosure request.
The law requires that specific criteria be included in the disclosure request to trigger the insurer’s obligation 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:
- A statement that the attorney is representing a person who suffered bodily injury or death alleged to have been caused by an accident with an insured under an insurance policy issued by the insurer, entity or company ;
- The name and last known address of the insured;
- The date and approximate time of the accident;
- A copy of the accident report, if available, relating to the accident.
In addition, where the claim at issue relates to a motor vehicle accident, the request for disclosure must also include:
- Insurer, policy number and name of policyholder;
- Selection of tort threshold; and
- Injury Protection Coverage Limit.
Notably, while the new law requires disclosure of insurance policy limits, it does not require disclosure of the policy itself or the pages of statements. Additionally, the new law does not require an insurer to provide additional information other than the policy limit, such as the persons/entities insured under the policy(ies) or information regarding limit erosion.
It is important to note that the policy limit disclosure does not need to be provided in the form of an affidavit or sworn statement, as is common in pre-action disclosure laws. in court in other states, and disclosure does not constitute an admission that the alleged injury or damage is covered by the policy. Information regarding the insurance policy is not admissible as evidence at trial under the disclosure, and in fact, the disclosure must be kept confidential by the plaintiff, his attorney, and attorney’s office staff.
Finally, each insurer issuing applicable policies in New Jersey must provide the New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance with an email address, which DOBI will post on its website for the purpose of receiving requests for disclosure of policy limits in accordance with to the law. This aspect of the law comes into force on October 4, 2022.