Cozen O’Connor: Bennion, Craig H.

Craig H. Bennion

Member

Seattle

(206) 224-1243

(206) 621-8783

Craig H. Bennion concentrates his practice on all aspects of insurance coverage analysis and insurance policy language interpretation, advanced contract analysis, appellate advocacy, and alternative dispute resolution.

Craig’s insurance coverage background spans 30 years’ experience in analyzing insurance policies and claims, in both first-party property and third-party liability areas. He represents leading national and regional insurers and self-insured risk pools.

Craig has analyzed coverage and advised clients in first-party matters under all-risk commercial, homeowners, and builder's risk policies, involving a wide range of issues including business interruption; theft and vandalism; snow load damage; fidelity risks; boiler and machinery; computer damage and electronic loss; primary/excess issues; UIM coverage; construction defects; water intrusion, mold and rot; earth movement; and collapse.  Craig offers experienced legal services related to property claims ranging from providing advice concerning reservation of rights, coverage declinations, and policy language; conducting examinations under oath; negotiating claim resolution, directly or through mediation; and litigating disputed claims in declaratory and bad faith actions.

Craig has extensive experience in third-party liability matters, including coverage issues concerning bodily injury, property damage, personal injury, and advertising injury; contractual liability; employment practices liability coverage (wrongful termination, discrimination, harassment, retaliation); directors and officers liability; professional errors and omissions liability; primary/excess issues; claims-made policies; violation of civil rights; molestation or sexual abuse; and construction defect claims. Craig also advises clients concerning the development of new or alternate policy language.

Recent articles authored by Craig have addressed application of the ensuing loss clause in multi-cause property losses; erosion of the attorney-client privilege in property loss investigations and claim handling; and the insured’s compliance with the policy’s examination under oath requirement.

Craig is a member of the appellate and alternative dispute resolution sections of the Washington State and King County Bar Associations, and is a member of the Claims & Litigation Management Alliance and the Northwest Insurance Coverage Association.

Craig received his Bachelor of Arts at Wesleyan University in 1977 and earned his law degree at Stanford Law School in 1980.  He began his legal career as a law clerk to Judge Barbara Durham of the Washington Court of Appeals. He has served as a neutral (arbitrator or mediator) in a variety of commercial disputes, and provides mediation services on a pro bono basis for King County District Court, where he has mediated over 150 small claims disputes.

News

Montana Supreme Court Rules Boulder Crash into Home is Considered a Landslide

August 15, 2016

Craig Bennion of the Global Insurance Department is quoted in LegalNewsLine discussing the July 19th ruling by the Montana Supreme Court that a boulder that thundered down a hillside and crashed into a house was to be considered a landslide for insurance purposes.

Publications

Coverage to Rebuild a Foundation to Comply with Changed Building Codes Following a Fire are Subject to Code-Upgrade Endorsement’s Sublimit [Property Insurance Law Observer Blog]

January 04, 2017

Does the efficient proximate cause rule serve to afford coverage for the additional costs to rebuild the foundation of a home in compliance with changed building code requirements beyond the sublimit of liability of an optional building ordinance or law endorsement?  In an opinion ordered published...

Is a Rock a Landslide? Montana Supreme Court Says Yes [Property Insurance Law Observer Blog]

July 27, 2016

In a recent decision, the Montana Supreme Court upheld application of an Earth Movement exclusion to bar coverage for damage to a home when a single large boulder rolled down a hill and smashed into it. In doing so, the court gave the words of the exclusion their plain and ordinary meaning, refusing...

More Common Sense: Coverage for Collapse Requires More Than an Engineer’s Finding of Substantial Impairment [Property Insurance Law Observer Blog]

July 15, 2016

In February this blog commented on Washington State’s newly-adopted definition of “collapse” in property insurance policies that contain no specific definition of the term. (Observer, February 8, 2016, Common Sense Prevails:  State of Collapse Nonexistent Thirteen Years before Discovery of Decay)...

Common Sense Prevails: State of Collapse Nonexistent 13 Years before Discovery of Decay [Global Insurance Newsletter]

April 18, 2016

Craig H. Bennion discusses property insurance policies that exclude rot damage that have been called upon to cover rot because the policies extend coverage to collapse — an undefined term — caused by hidden decay, even if the structure remains standing and in use.

Common Sense Prevails: State of Collapse Nonexistent Thirteen Years before Discovery of Decay [Property Insurance Law Observer Blog]

February 08, 2016

For years, property insurance policies that exclude rot damage have been called upon to cover rot because the policies extend coverage to “collapse”—an undefined term—caused by hidden decay, even if the structure remains standing and in use. The Homeowners Association of the Queen Anne Park...

“Insanity Defense” Fails To Preserve Coverage For Insured’s Arson [Property Insurance Law Observer Blog]

January 26, 2016

Missouri resident James Roller set fire to his garage in an attempt to commit suicide.  When smoke and fumes surrounded him he changed his mind, fled the garage, and alerted his wife of the fire.  Mrs. Roller called 911.  A sheriff’s deputy escorted Mr. Roller to “protective custody” and obtained a...

Washington Supreme Court Misses Opportunity to Clarify the Meaning Of “Collapse” [Property Insurance Law Observer Blog]

June 23, 2015

Washington State has long been a jurisdiction with no judicial pronouncement as to the meaning of the term “collapse” in a property insurance policy, but that changed last Thursday when the state’s Supreme Court issued its decision in Queen Anne Park Homeowners Ass’n v. State Farm Fire & Cas....

Washington Supreme Court Addresses the Meaning of “Collapse” [Global Insurance Alert]

June 23, 2015

In its discussion, the Washington Supreme Court found that the term collapse, as used in the insurance policy before it, was ambiguous. The court then adopted a definition of collapse, but the use of uncertain terms in its definition may lead to further ambiguity.

The Washington Supreme Court Holds That in First-Party Bad Faith Litigation There Is a Presumption of No Attorney-Client Privilege [Global Insurance Alert]

March 15, 2013

When an insured sues an insurer for bad faith, how much of the claims file maintained by the insurer is discoverable? In a 5-4 decision, the Washington Supreme Court recently weakened insurers’ ability to protect confidential communications with their attorneys in first-party claims where the insured has alleged bad faith. Cedell v. Farmers Insurance Company of Washington, No. 85366-5 (February 22, 2013). The court held that, in the context of a first-party claim for bad faith claim handling and processing, courts must apply a presumption that there is no applicable attorney-client privilege. The court further held that an insurer would be entitled to overcome the presumption by showing that its counsel was providing legal advice as to the insurer’s potential liability and was not acting in the insurer’s “quasi-fiduciary” function. Upon this showing, the insurer is entitled to an in camera review where the trial court will determine if the privilege applies, subject to the insured’s assertions that the privilege does not apply due to an exception, including the civil fraud exception.

Washington Supreme Court Issues an Unprecedented Decision Regarding a First-Party Insured’s Compliance with a Policy’s EUO Provision [Global Insurance Alert]

February 11, 2013

The examination under oath has long served as a valuable tool to prevent fraud and exaggeration in property insurance claims, while also keeping the cost of insurance as low as possible. The Washington Supreme Court, however, did insurance consumers no favor when it recently held, in an 8-1 decision, that an insured may substantially comply with an insurer's request for examination under oath (EUO), even where the insured never submitted to the requested EUO. Staples v. Allstate Ins. Co., No. 86413-6, Washington Supreme Court (Jan. 24, 2013). The court also held that an insurer must establish actual prejudice before denying a claim based on the insured's noncompliance with the EUO request. The court's decision is a departure from previous precedent.

When Loss Ensues: Washington State Supreme Court Issues Mixed Messages on Ensuing Loss Provisions in All-Risk Policies [Global Insurance Alert]

June 01, 2012

When Loss Ensues: Washington State Supreme Court Issues Mixed Messages on Ensuing Loss Provisions in All-Risk Policies - Global Insurance Alert - All‐risk property insurance policies generally provide coverage for any peril that causes property damage, except when the damage is caused by a risk specifically excluded in the policy.

The Earthquake and Tsunami in Japan: A Factual Overview and Preliminary First-Party Analysis [Cozen O'Connor White Paper]

April 07, 2011

The Earthquake and Tsunami in Japan: A Factual Overview and Preliminary First-Party Analysis - Cozen O'Connor White Paper - Whether or not you are involved in addressing claims under first party policies, we trust you will find the factual information contained in the report informative. In the event you need additional information or assistance, please contact Rick Mackowsky who will act as our "expeditor" to make sure you are getting to the right person at the firm to handle any issues you have.

Fixing the Undamaged: Coverage for Code Upgrades in Property Claims [Seminar Program Book]

September 16, 2010

Fixing the Undamaged: Coverage for Code Upgrades in Property Claims - Seminar Program Book - If insured property is partially damaged by a peril covered by a property insurance
policy, repair of the damage will be subject to local ordinances that may mandate upgrades
or changes that were not required when the property was originally constructed. Local
ordinance may also dictate changes to portions of the building not damaged by the loss
event.

Insurance Coverage Observer [Winter 2008]

February 26, 2008

In this issue, we consider a number of emerging issues and also identify key developments in coverage in 2007. We summarize new court decisions dealing with toxic torts, environmental coverage, insolvency and regulatory issues, and construction defect. We feature a key construction defect coverage case in Illinois with important implications. We address global warming in the context of directors with officers liability coverage. Finally, we discuss the emerging areas of fax blast and food contamination, and the impact of the reauthorization of TRIA.

The Santa Ana Wind-Driven 2007 Southern California Wildfires: A First-Party Factual and Legal Analysis of the Santa Ana Wind-Driven Wildfires [Cozen & O'Connor Whitepaper]

November 14, 2007

The Santa Ana Wind-Driven 2007 Southern California Wildfires: A First-Party Factual and Legal Analysis of the Santa Ana Wind-Driven Wildfires - Cozen & O'Connor Whitepaper -

Events & Seminars

Past Events

Bad Faith Liability: Prevention and Control

May 16, 2017 - New Orleans, LA

Industry Sectors

Education

  • Stanford University Law School, J.D., 1980
  • Wesleyan University, B.A., 1977
  • Washington
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
  • U.S. District Court -- Eastern District of Washington
  • U.S. District Court -- Western District of Washington
  • Washington Supreme Court

Judge Barbara Durham, The Washington Court of Appeals

  • American Bar Association
  • King County Bar Association
  • Northwest Insurance Coverage Association
  • Washington State Bar Association