Geoffrey Hancy - Barrister

Cases // Insurance

Insurance issues can be complex and lead to litigation. Geoff has facilitated resolution of insurance contract disputes covering a vast range of insurance policies - transport, motor vehicle, marine, professional liability, employers’ liability, workers’ compensation, public liability, building and construction, contractors, property, house and contents, housing indemnity, life insurance, income protection, personal disability, and government insurance.  He has been adviser or trial counsel in cases of alleged arson or other fraud

In 2006 he won the national Australian Insurance Law Association’s prestigious Insurance Law Prize for his substantial contribution to insurance law and insurance law education.

He has acted as mediator and arbitrator as well as filling the more typical role as trial lawyer and appeal counsel.  In a number of cases he was adviser before trial, trial lawyer, and appeal counsel, including in the High Court.

2021
[2021] WASC 300
McMurray v AIG Insurance Ltd [No 5]

Luxury home destroyed by fire. Claim against builder’s insurer settled before trial. Insurer of building relied on “Contract Works” exclusion. Insurer contended fire caused by spontaneous combustion of rags soaked in timber stain product left by painters during refurbishment (“renovations”) works. Competing theories on cause of fire. Evidence of an intruder. Cause not proven by insurer. Insurer liable. Admittedly negligent failure by insurance broker to obtain appropriate insurance. Broker not liable on ground that insurer liable and no loss by insureds. Client was successful

[2021] WADC 42
BB v Helena College

BB was a primary school student when she was sexually abused by a school teacher.  Her claim for damages against the school was settled and the trial proceeded as a claim by the school for indemnity against three liability insurers, QBE, IAG and Berkshire Hathaway.  The terms of settlement were recorded in a confidential deed.  IAG was the only insurer that admitted liability to indemnify but was willing to pay no more than half, supporting the school’s claim that QBE was also liable to indemnify.  All three insurers were found liable to indemnify the school for the full amount of the settlement. IAG, client was successful.

[2020] WADC 103
Smith v MMG Golden Grove Pty Ltd

Damages for breach of insurance contract.  Liability insurance. Effect of waiver of subrogation clause in Employers Indemnity Insurance.  Reasonableness of settlement between plaintiff and defendant.  Whether damages includes amount of settlement repaid to workers’ compensation insurer and defendant’s legal costs of defending plaintiffs claim. Workers’ Compensation exclusion. Amount of deductible.  Consequence of delay in notifying claim. Settlement of plaintiff’s claim without insurer’s consent. At trial client was successful against insurer.

2019
[2019] WASCA 114
Tokio Marine & Nichido Fire Insurance Co Ltd v Hans Bo Kristian Holgersson

Builder’s insurance. Tokio Marine & Nichido Fire Insurance. Fire destroyed home undergoing renovations. Whether painters were “Subcontractors” and entitled to indemnity under liability cover.  Whether owners were “Principals” and entitled to property cover for damage to renovation works.  On appeal client was successful

2018
[2018] WASCA 153
The State of Western Australia v Leicester

Fire loss claims. Multiple claims. Margaret River bush fires. Whether plaintiffs’ insurer entered into binding settlement agreement. Extent of claims not covered by the settlement.  On appeal client was not successful regarding ambit of settlement release of claims

[2018] WASCA 89
WFI Insurance Ltd v Manitowoq Platinum Pty Ltd

Business liability insurance. Condition requiring insured to comply with legislation and Australian Standards. Whether condition qualified by reference to implied obligation to take reasonable care and only breached by reckless conduct. On appeal client was not successful.

[2018] WASC 144
McMurray v AIG Insurance Australia Ltd

Builder’s insurance. Tokio Marine & Nichido Fire Insurance. Fire destroyed home undergoing renovations. Whether painters were “Subcontractors” and entitled to indemnity under liability cover.  Whether owners were “Principals” and entitled to property cover for damage to renovation works.  Client was successful at trial of preliminary issue.

2016
[2016] WASCA 143
WFI Insurance Ltd v Verini

On appeal client was successful. At trial client was successful.  Owner builder client. House contents insurance. Liability of owner builder. Residential house balcony collapse. Breach of duty admitted. Exclusion for breach of duty as owner held inapplicable. Duty as builder. Insurer’s appeal dismissed

[2015] WASC 258
Austin v Verini

On appeal client was successful. At trial client was successful.  Owner builder client. House contents insurance. Owner builder in claim against insurer. Liability of owner builder. In 1993 defendant owner builder constructed home with external balcony. Balcony collapsed in 2009 and plaintiffs were injured.  Exclusion in insurance policy for liability arising out of breach of duty as owner. Liability held to arise from activity of building house and not as owner. Third party insurer, WFI Insurance, liable to indemnify insured

2014
[2014] WASC 422
Fortescue Metals Group Ltd v Underwriting Members of XL Syndicate 1209 at Lloyds for the 2004 and 2005 Underwriting Years of Account

Interlocutory decision. Mining company client was successful.  Directors and Officers Insurance.  Claim for indemnity for Defence Costs of proceedings brought by Australian and Securities Investments Commission and successfully defended.  Order for trial of liability issues before quantum.

[2014] HCA 33
Maxwell v Highway Hauliers Pty Ltd

Before High Court client was successful.  On appeal client was successful before Court of Appeal. At trial client was successful. Road transport company client. Heavy haulage vehicle insurance. Insurance Contracts Act (Cth) s54. After contract made insured prime movers were driven by drivers who were not ‘PAQS’ tested, contrary to a term of policy.  Decision of trial judge and Court of Appeal, requiring insurers to indemnify insured, upheld. Insurers’ appeal to the High Court dismissed

[2014] WASCA 119
Ward v Metlife Insurance Ltd

On appeal client was not successful, by majority. One appeal judge would have dismissed the appeal in favour of client. At trial client was successful. Life insurer client. Income protection insurance. Former director of accounting firm. Depression. Terms “Occupation”, “Disabled”.

[2013] WASCA 115 (S)
Maxwell v Highway Hauliers

Interlocutory decision, client was successful.  Insurers unreasonably failed to accept settlement offer for appeal. Ordered to pay indemnity costs from date when offer ought to have been accepted.

[2013] WASCA 115
Maxwell v Highway Hauliers

Before High Court client was successful.  On appeal client was successful before Court of Appeal. At trial client was successful. Road transport company client. Heavy haulage vehicle insurance. Decision of trial judge, requiring insurers to indemnify insured, upheld. Insurers’ appeal dismissed

[2013] FCA 116
Alstom Limited v Liberty Mutual Insurance

At trial client was not successful. Marine insurer client. Marine insurance. Gas turbine transformers damaged during sea voyage. Claim for production of documents in possession of Indian manufacturer relevant to packing. Insured held entitled to indemnity for repair costs

[2012] WADC 166
Ward v MetLife

On appeal client was not successful, by majority. One appeal judge would have dismissed the appeal in favour of client. At trial client was successful. Life insurer. Income protection insurance. Director of accounting firm. Depression. Held not disabled.

[2012] WASC 53
Highway Hauliers v Maxwell

Before High Court client was successful.  On appeal client was successful before Court of Appeal. At trial client was successful. Road transport company client. Heavy haulage vehicle insurance. Operation of prime mover and trailer combinations by drivers who were not ‘PAQS’ tested. Section 54 of the Insurance Contracts Act precluded insurer from denying indemnity. By reason of breach of contract of insurance, insurer liable to pay damages for loss of opportunity to earn profits from replacement vehicle

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