Frequently, a Plaintiff, usually through an attorney, needs to find out how much insurance coverage a prospective Defendant actually has in place. Georgia law provides a mechanism for finding this out in OCGA (Official Code of Georgia Annotated) §33-3-28. This section provides in subsection (a) [OCGA 33-3-28(a)] two different rules. The first applies to insurers. It provides,
“(1) Every insurer providing liability or casualty insurance coverage in this state and which is or may be liable to pay all or a part of any claim shall provide, within 60 days of receiving a written request from the claimant, a statement, under oath, of a corporate officer or the insurer’s claims manager stating with regard to each known policy of insurance issued by it, including excess or umbrella insurance, the name of the insurer, the name of each insured, and the limits of coverage. Such insurer may provide a copy of the declaration page of each such policy in lieu of providing such information. The claimant’s request shall set forth under oath the specific nature of the claim asserted and shall be mailed to the insurer by certified mail or statutory overnight delivery.” [OCGA 33-3-28(a)(1)].
The second rule is for prospective Defendants whose insurance status is unknown. It states,
“(2) The insured, within 30 days of receiving a written request from a claimant or the claimant’s attorney, shall disclose to the claimant or his attorney the name of each known insurer which may be liable to the claimant upon such claim.” [OCGA 33-3-28(a)(2)].
Arguably, the requirements of describing the nature of the claim in (1) and of sending by certified mail or statutory overnight delivery apply to (2) as well. Seems prudent to follow them as a precaution if not for the sake of clarity and efficiency.
If the prospective Plaintiff does not provide sufficient information, the prospective Defendant can ask for more:
“(b) If the request provided in subsection (a) of this Code section contains information insufficient to allow compliance, the insurer or insured upon whom the request was made may so state in writing, stating specifically what additional information is needed, and such compliance shall constitute compliance with this Code section.” [OCGA 33-3-28(b)].
It is important that an insurer or prospective Defendant does not waive any defenses just by identifying coverage. Nor does the identification statement necessarily get into evidence at trial.
“(c) The information provided to a claimant or his attorney as required by subsection (a) of this Code section shall not create a waiver of any defenses to coverage available to the insurer and shall not be admissible in evidence unless otherwise admissible under Georgia law.” [OCGA 33-3-28(c)].
If new information is discovered by the prospective Defendant or the insurer, they have a duty to amend their statements made under this statute.
“(d) The information provided to a claimant or his attorney as required by subsection (a) of this Code section shall be amended upon the discovery of facts inconsistent with or in addition to the information provided.” [OCGA 33-3-28(d)].