Chubb Insurance Probe Sought by New York Catholic Abuse Victims


By James Nani and Alex Wolf | November 24, 2023 10:34AM ET

A child sex abuse survivors advocacy group wants New York’s financial regulator to investigate insurer Chubb Ltd. for allegedly not complying with its mandate to cooperate with the state’s Child Victims Act.

The Coalition for Just and Compassionate Compensation asked the New York State Department of Financial Services to probe Chubb and its policies over what the group said is the insurer’s resistance to cover damages related to the CVA. The request, made in a letter Friday, comes as Chubb subsidiaries battle the Archdiocese of New York in state court over the extent of their coverage obligations with respect to abuse claims.

“It is a cynical but tried and true practice of some in the insurance industry to delay, deny, and defend,” the letter said. “Chubb knows that every month that is spent in litigation, another survivor dies, lessening their potential liability.”

Suits stemming from New York’s CVA have forced six of the state’s eight regional Catholic dioceses into bankruptcy, exacerbating fights with insurers as the dioceses seek coverage for the abuse claims. The archdiocese hasn’t sought bankruptcy protection.

Neither Chubb nor the DFS immediately responded to requests for comment Friday.

The Chubb insurers sued the New York Archdiocese in June. The insurers argue that because senior archdiocese officials may have known for decades that some clergy members were committing sexual abuse, their insurance policies don’t require coverage for injuries that were expected, intended, or weren’t accidental.

The New York Archdiocese is one of the largest by Catholic population in the country, covering large swaths of New York City and several counties. It has been named as a defendant in an estimated 3,000 lawsuits related to the CVA, according to Chubb’s court papers. 

“The precedent that Chubb is seeking to establish here will have profound impacts on claims far beyond those involving the Archdiocese,” the group’s letter said. “And as such, the Department of Financial Services has an obligation to make clear to Chubb—and all insurance carriers in the State of New York—they will fulfill their obligations.”

‘Seeks to Welch’

The archdiocese in October filed a motion to dismiss Chubb’s lawsuit, saying the insurer “seeks to welch on its decades-long contractual promises to defend and pay thousands of survivor claims.”

The litigation, which shows Chubb’s “hungry desire” to evade coverage after accepting $100 million in premiums over the last three decades, is based on unproven allegations of negligence, the archdiocese said.

Arguments on the motion to dismiss are scheduled for Nov. 27.

The coalition in its letter said Chubb has also pushed back on coverage across the country, including in a lawsuit it brought against the Archdiocese of San Francisco.

The New York Archdiocese has already settled more than 100 cases, and aims to settle more, the coalition said. 

But “to provide full restitution” Chubb must “fulfill its insurance obligation and assist in paying out these damages” considering the millions of dollars in insurance premiums the archdiocese has paid out over the years, the group said, echoing the archdiocese’s arguments.

Former Gov. Andrew Cuomo in February 2019 signed the CVA into law, extending the time for victims of sexual abuse to bring civil suits and reopening the statute of limitations for legal claims for a one-year window beginning on Aug. 14, 2019. 

In September 2019, the New York State Department of Financial Services issued a letter saying it expected insurers “to cooperate fully with the intent of the Child Victims Act.”

To contact the reporters on this story: James Nani in New York at jnani@bloombergindustry.com and awolf@bloombegindustry.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Maria Chutchian at mchutchian@bloombergindustry.com