If there is one type of business that does not deserve the profits it has, much less increased ones, it is health insurance companies. Even though I live in Connecticut, home to many insurance companies, I would reserve the lowest of Dante's rungs of hell for them. The banality of corporate evil has never been more evil or banal.
It may come as a surprise, therefore, for me to be praising a recent opinion upholding copyright in particular insurance policies, American Family Life Insurance Company of Columbus v. Assurant Inc. Plaintiff is better known as "Aflac," and adopted a very successful cute duck PR face on a very uncute industry. Plaintiff's niche is supplemental insurance policies; four were at issue in this case: a cancer indemnity policy, and accident-only policy, a hospital confinement indemnity policy, and a hospital confinement sickness indemnity policy. Supplemental insurance policies differ from traditional insurance policies in being risk specific. Aflac is a market leader in such policies.
The policies took several months of drafting work, and went through numerous iterations. A principal, and salutary objective of the drafting was to achieve a narrative style that would be easier for laypersons to understand, as opposed to the legalistic, hide-the-ball style usually employed. Plaintiff claimed that defendants, competitors of Aflac, lifted entire passages verbatim. Defendants attacked plaintiff's originality, and no doubt there was much in the policies that were not original to plaintiff (e.g., having been copied from other policies, from third party-definitions, and the like). Yet, relying on previous insurance company opinions, such as Continental Casualty Co. v. Beardsley, 253 F.2d 702 (2d Cir. 1958), Miner v. Employers Mutual Liability Insurance Co., 229 F.2d 35 (D.C. Cir. 1938), and Dorsey v. Old Surety Life Insurance Co., 98 F.2d 872 (10th Cir. 1936), Judge Beverly Martin of the Northern District of Georgia rightly held that there was a sufficient degree of originality to support protection, at least against verbatim copying.
Certainly from a "policy" standpoint, it is desirable to have clarity in insurance documents, if only to learn clearly how you are being shafted.