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3.8-7  Insurance Agent Malpractice

Revised to January 1, 2008

Here the plaintiff claims that the defendant was negligent in that:  <list allegations of negligence>.

The plaintiff further alleges that as a direct and proximate result of the acts and/or omissions of the defendant, the plaintiff was damaged.

The plaintiff need not prove that the defendant failed to use the required care, skill, and diligence in all the ways alleged.  It is enough if the plaintiff proves one or more of the allegations of negligence, provided the plaintiff also proves that such negligence was a legal cause of (his/her) losses.

The plaintiff claims that in failing to obtain the insurance coverage requested by the plaintiff, the defendant insurance agent breached (his/her) obligation to perform under the reasonable standard of care of an insurance agent.  The defendant held (himself/herself) out to be a skilled insurance agent.  As such, the defendant was bound to exercise the same degree of care as a skilled insurance agent of ordinary prudence, engaged in the same line of business.

Negligence is the breach of a legal duty which one person owes to another to care for the safety of that person or that person's property.  To the extent that the defendant was acting as the plaintiff's agent, the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty to exercise reasonable skill, care, and diligence in obtaining the insurance, and any negligence or other breach of duty on the defendant's part that defeats the insurance which (he/she) undertakes to secure renders (him/her) liable to the plaintiff for the resulting loss. Where an agent, like the defendant, undertakes to procure a policy affording protection against a designated risk, the law imposes upon (him/her) an obligation to perform with reasonable care the duty (he/she) has assumed, and the defendant may be held liable for loss properly attributable to (his/her) breach.  An agent acts negligently if (he/she) fails to obtain the insurance requested or fails to notify the client of (his/her) inability to do so.

As I have already mentioned, the plaintiff has the burden of proving its negligence claim by a fair preponderance of the evidence, that is, that the defendant's conduct represented a breach of the prevailing professional standard of care.  Under our law, the plaintiff must prove this by expert testimony.1  More specifically, the plaintiff must establish, through expert testimony, both what the standard of care is and the allegations that the defendant's conduct represented a breach of that standard.  Additionally, the plaintiff must establish through expert testimony that the breach of the standard of care was a legal cause of the injury that the plaintiff claims to have occurred. 

Keeping in mind all the requirements I just discussed, if the plaintiff has failed to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant breached the prevailing professional standard of care, or that said breach was a legal cause of the injuries claimed, or that no damages resulted therefrom, you must render a verdict for the defendant on this claim.
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1 Expert testimony is not required where there is such an obvious and gross lack of care and skill that it is clear even to a layperson.  Davis v. Margolis, 215 Conn. 408, 416 n.6 (1990).  Some Superior Court opinions have held that whether the exception applies is a question of law. Thompson v. Putnam Kitchens, Superior Court, judicial district of Stamford-Norwalk at Stamford, Docket No. CV 02 0188635 (December 7, 2004); Faulise v. Eisenstein, Superior Court, judicial district of New Britain, Docket No. CV 98 0490341 (October 30, 2000); Digioia v. Greenberg, Superior Court, judicial district of New Haven, Docket No. CV 0350406 (October 11, 1995).

Authority

Ursini v. Goldman, 118 Conn, 554, 559 (1934); Dimeo v. Burns, Brooks & McNeil, Inc., 6 Conn. App. 241, 244-45, cert. denied, 199 Conn. 805 (1996); Todd v. Malafronte, 3 Conn. App. 16, 22 (1984).
 


 

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