Top Ind. Court Rules in Agent’s Favor

September 10, 2003

The Indiana Supreme Court has denied the appellee’s petition to transfer the jurisdiction of the DeHays/Pretzels case involving an agent’s duty to disclose from the Court of Appeals to the Indiana Supreme Court.

Two construction companies, Shambaugh & Son Inc. and Simerman Construction Co. Inc. sought to have the Court of Appeals decision overturned that concluded that DeHayes had not breached any legal duty that it owed to Pretzels. The Independent Insurance Agents of Indiana (IIAI) filed an amicus curiae with the Court of Appeals and the Indiana Supreme Court.

The implications of the decision are most clearly seen in what the Court of Appeals did not say, according to a statement released by the IIAI. The Court of appeals did not engage in a broad analysis of whether the agent owed a duty to transmit the underwriting decision of one potential carrier to the insured. The Court also did not say that an agent’s files are an “open book” to everyone who may ask. The Court did not create conflicts between confidentially concerns and disclosure duties.

Instead, the Court of Appeals relied upon well-known standards and practices to hold that DeHays has not breached any responsibilities to Pretzels. This means that the agent’s role in procuring and placing insurance on behalf of the client remains as it was—primarily a relationship in which both the interests of the client and customer and the interest of the carrier are well served, the IIAI said.

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