M&W Repeats as Winner of Insurance Law Litigation Department of the Year by the New Jersey Law Journal


Edison, N.J. – May 1, 2015 – The New Jersey Law Journal has once again named Methfessel & Werbel New Jersey’s top insurance law firm of the year.   The award follows the firm’s receipt of the same award last year, which preceded the firm’s expansion with the addition of 5 attorneys.more

The first back-to-back winner of this prestigious award is recognized for its excellence and impact in the fields of first party, third party and subrogation work.

 “We have worked very hard for a very long time to establish ourselves at the top of insurance law firms in the state of New Jersey. Our 43 year commitment to the insurance and managed risk industries has allowed us to participate in some of the most significant developments affecting our clients and our industry,” said co-Managing Partner John Methfessel. “We have handled cases which have turned out to be cornerstone cases establishing insurance law in the state, and we’re extremely proud to be recognized two years running as the premier law firm practicing insurance law in the state.”

“To be recognized back-to-back as the winner of this award is a tremendous accomplishment for our organization,” stated Joel Werbel, co-founder of the firm. “When Methfessel and Werbel was established in 1972 we founded it with the idea that we would create relationships with our clients in the insurance and risk industry that would serve their needs over the long term. One of the things that makes me the most proud is that we have a number of clients who have been with us for that entire period – a fact that has validated our approach.”

In the year since winning the last award, M&W attorneys have tried over 30 cases, some of which were among the largest exposure cases tried in the state. M&W attorneys also have been counsel of record in 22 written opinions issued by state and federal courts. The firm continues to enjoy tremendous success not only in the performance of its seasoned veterans, but also by less-experienced attorneys who are all involved in the firm’s structured mentoring and supervision program. As a result, not only are the needs of clients met today;  the firm ensures continuity of service and value by ensuring succession.

Methfessel & Werbel serves clients ranging in size from mono-line program carriers and MGAs to Fortune 500 multi-line carriers and self-insureds. It is one of the longest standing, stable firms in New Jersey. Founded in 1972, the firm has grown steadily to its present size of 54 attorneys, and was most recently noted to be the 39th largest firm in New Jersey by N.J. Biz Magazine. Yet the firm has never strayed from its core mission: to serve the needs of the insurance and managed risk industry.

“Our mantra is to deliver value to our clients every day, on every matter, and our team lives by that mission. They put our clients needs first every single day, and our clients have rewarded our efforts with their trust,” added co-Managing Partner Matt Werbel. “We never, ever take our clients for granted, and we work hard every day to demonstrate that by anticipating and serving their every need.”

Read the articles here: 2015 2014

About Methfessel & Werbel

Methfessel & Werbel was established in 1972 to serve the needs of the Insurance and Managed Risk Industry. Our team of 54 attorneys and approximately 50 support staff pursues excellence with integrity in its mission to serve our clients every day. To learn more, visit the company’s website at http://njinslaw.com.

New Jersey Supreme Court Alters Continuous Trigger Doctrine in Environmental Claims


In Farmers Mutual v. N.J. Property-Liability Guarantee Association, handled by Ric Gallin of our office, the New Jersey Supreme Court has increased the exposure of property/casualty carriers in instances where there is an insolvent carrier sharing the risk with other carriers or the insured in long tail claims such as environmental and toxic tort exposures.more

It has long been the law in New Jersey, pursuant to the Owens-Illinois/Carter Wallace doctrine, that there is a continuous trigger in New Jersey for long tail claims such as toxic tort and environmental claims. Every carrier on the risk from first exposure until manifestation is triggered. The Courts have also consistently stated, on more than one occasion, that the insured bears the risk of periods of self insurance and carrier insolvency. The Supreme Court has changed this doctrine.

Our firm handled this case from the outset. It was always understood that this was going to be a test case and numerous other carriers allowed us to carry the ball on behalf of the homeowners carriers who were similarly situated. It was our contention that PLIGA was the entity responsible in the event of insurer insolvency. We were successful at the trial court level and entered into consent judgments against PLIGA. At the Appellate Division level the Court effectively undercut the multiple pronouncements by the Supreme Court over the years that the insured would be responsible in the event of insolvency and ruled that a solvent carrier is responsible for protecting an insured against an insurer insolvency in the event there is more than one insurer applicable to the loss.    Case Alert: September 2013

Freeze-Up Claims in the Wake of “Sandy”


In the wake of “Sandy” and the Nor’easter that hit New Jersey and New York on November 7, 2012, concern has arisen in the insurance industry over not only flood claims, but also freeze-up claims, given how many insureds in these states remain without power and with limited or no access to their homes.  As such, this memo will analyze the relevant policy provisions in both MSO and ISO forms, as well as issues that carriers will face.The relevant MSO and ISO policy provisions follow at the end of this memo.more


Carriers issuing MSO policies must evaluate post-“Sandy”/Nor’easter freeze-up claims with knowledge of the applicable policy language to make a valid determination whether coverage exists, and if so, to what extent. The plain language of Section I – D, subsection 4, for example, expressly indicates that no coverage for freeze-ups will ensue unless the exception is satisfied.  Significantly, the freeze-up provision is located beneath the concurrent exclusions section, which further justifies a denial of coverage if the freeze-up is concurrently caused by “Sandy”-related flooding.

Additionally, carriers issuing MSO policies may also be in a position to rely on the water damage exclusion, under Section I – D, subsection 10.  An argument can be made—assuming a flooding loss caused by “Sandy” exists—that any losses caused by freeze-ups are causally related to the flooding loss, which is clearly not covered under the policy.

The potential challenge to some coverage defenses would be establishing a nexus between any flood losses and subsequent freeze-up losses.  Specifically, the freeze-up might occur several days or longer after the flood, and courts might find the freeze-up sufficiently attenuated from the flooding to break the causal link and trigger coverage.  As such, carriers should not reflexively deny coverage solely on the basis that flooding may have put in motion the events that culminated in a freeze-up.  The amount of time between the uncovered flood loss and the (potentially uncovered) freeze-up loss may be significant, as may be other relevant factors, including the action or inaction of the insured.  These provisions clearly support a protocol of thoroughly examining the circumstances surrounding each claim to determine whether the insured has coverage or whether the claim should be denied.


Carriers issuing ISO policies must evaluate post-“Sandy”/Nor’easter freeze-up claims, based on the language of Section I,  Perils Insured Against, Coverage A – Dwelling and Coverage B – Other Structures, subsection 2.c.(1), which provides for no coverage for freeze-ups unless the insured has taken reasonable efforts to maintain heat and winterize pipes. View the Hurricane Sandy Case Alert.

Finding Individual Liability Under the N.J. LAD


In August 2014 the New Jersey Law Journal published an article by M&W's Vivian Lekkas and Jared Schure regarding the evolving law of individual liability under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination. Click Here to read the article.  Contact Vivian, contact Jared or contact Eric Harrison with any questions about this area of law or its application to your claims. more

New Jersey Law Journal

Vol.217 No. 461
Monday August 11,2014