Holcomb Dunbar - North Mississippi Attorneys

Insurance Law From A to Z Series – Cooperation and Assistance

Summary Mississippi Insurance Law CoverIt’s time for the next installment of Holcomb Dunbar law series “Insurance Law from A to Z.”  This was put together by our litigation group who practice in the insurance law arena.  Of course, if you have questions about these or any other topics please do not hesitate to contact us.

This week’s installment – Cooperation and Assistance

Insurance agreements usually have language requiring the insureds to help in the investigation and defense of a claim.  This is called the cooperation clause.  A breach of the cooperation clause in an insurance contract is considered a material breach if prejudicial to the defense and relieves the insurer of the duty to defend or indemnify its insured under the policy.  State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co. v. Commercial Union Ins. Co., 394 So. 2d 890, 893 (Miss. 1981).  However, non-prejudicial misrepresentations will be considered immaterial.  Id.

The insurer bears the burden of showing both attempted diligence in securing the insured’s cooperation, and failure of the insured to cooperate in a material matter.  Nationwide Mut. Ins. Co. v. Tillman, 161 So. 2d 604, 616 (Miss. 1964).

The insured may also breach the cooperation clause by misrepresenting facts surrounding the accident or by collusively assuming liability for the accident. Employers Mut. Cas. Co. v. Ainsworth, 164 So. 2d 412, 418 (Miss. 1964).  However, unintentional misrepresentations do not establish a breach of the duty to cooperate, especially if the insured promptly corrects the misrepresentations.  Id.

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The information contained in this post is for general guidance on matters of interest only.  The application and impact of laws can vary widely based on the specific facts involved. Given the changing nature of laws, rules and regulations, there may be omissions or inaccuracies in information contained in this report.  Accordingly, the information in this report is provided with the understanding that the authors are not herein engaged in rendering legal, tax, or other professional advice and services.  As such, it should not be used as a substitute for consultation with legal or other competent advisers.  Before making any decision or taking any action, you should consult with your counsel or the attorneys at Holcomb Dunbar.

2018