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Insurability of Punitive Damages in Civil Litigation: Reducing Uncertainty of Coverage and Insurer Duties

Recording of a 90-minute CLE video webinar with Q&A

This program is included with the Strafford CLE Pass. Click for more information.
This program is included with the Strafford All-Access Pass. Click for more information.

Conducted on Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Recorded event now available

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This CLE webinar will review the wide variety and range of answers to the complex and increasingly important issues of whether and under what circumstances a commercial general liability or other policy will cover an award of punitive damages against the insured. The program will also discuss best strategies for analyzing this coverage issue.


Punitive damages are available in most civil litigation. Some courts of last resort have held that insurance coverage may be relevant to the appropriate measure of punitive damages. Yet many liability policies are silent about coverage for punitive damages.

Courts award punitive damages for egregious conduct, but states differ regarding the type and degree of conduct that rises to that level. Culpability affects insurability. Thus, the choice of law can be crucial to this inquiry.

Even in the many states that specifically allow insurance coverage for punitive damages, significant variation exists regarding the standard of conduct for coverage, the nature of liability, and other issues. Even states that prohibit coverage have exceptions. States that don't prohibit coverage for punitive damages often have confusing standards or even no standards and guidelines.

Listen as this panel of experienced coverage attorneys guides insurance counsel through the nuanced analysis for determining whether punitive damages are insurable.



  1. Policy language
  2. Jurisdictional treatment of insurability
  3. Rationales for and against insurability
  4. Practical considerations
  5. Questions


The panel will review these and other pivotal issues:

  • What factors influence the insurability of punitive damages?
  • Can plaintiffs plead into coverage?
  • How does insurability affect settlement decisions?
  • Does insuring punitive damages benefit the wrongdoer or society?


Janutis, Rachel
Professor Rachel Janutis

Dean and Professor
Capital University Law School

Dean and Professor Janutis teaches courses on civil procedure, remedies, complex litigation and conflict of laws. Her...  |  Read More

Leffler, Amanda
Amanda M. Leffler

Brouse McDowell

Ms. Leffler serves as Chair of Brouse McDowell’s Insurance Recovery Practice Group. As a member of one of the...  |  Read More

Wolf, Daniel
Daniel I. Wolf


Mr. Wolf focuses his practice on resolving complex insurance coverage issues for policyholders.  Leveraging over a...  |  Read More

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