Insurance Coverage and Bad Faith Litigation

Copeland, Stair, Valz & Lovell has been advising and defending insurers in the increasingly complex, high-stakes legal challenges confronting the insurance industry for over 45 years. Copeland, Stair, Valz & Lovell’s Insurance Coverage and Bad Faith Litigation Practice Group integrates a thorough understanding of the insurance industry, from policy formation to claims handling, with comprehensive litigation and trial skills, and is recognized as a regional leader within the insurance industry. Our attorneys are dedicated to providing prompt, efficient and accurate representation; they are also recognized for incorporating innovative and cost-effective measures to meet its client’s goals and committed to assisting the insurance industry in managing its risks by effectively and efficiently guiding insurers through myriad facets of third party, property, arson and fraud and bad faith coverage matters.

Visit our Insurance Coverage Corner blog for legal updates, opinions and relevant information on insurance coverage and bad faith litigation.

Third Party

Copeland Stair assists insurers in resolving coverage disputes involving policies of all manner affording liability protection, including personal, commercial, business, professional, employment, health and disability, excess and umbrella. Our attorneys appreciate the statutory and common law obligations of claims professionals. We carefully evaluate coverage positions, and devise cost-effective strategies for successful resolution, whether through the issuance of coverage opinions, reservations of rights letters, non-waiver agreements and denial letters, to filing and defending declaratory judgment actions or negotiating settlements involving complex coverage trigger and allocation issues.


Our First Party Property practice encompasses a variety of property losses from homeowner claims to complex, large property loss claims arising from natural disasters, explosions, building collapse, machinery, equipment and fixture failure to fire and theft loss. Our attorneys are experienced in spearheading investigations involving significant business losses, ascertaining and evaluating the conduct of the insured, compliance with the terms and conditions of the policy and conducting examinations under oath. In defending First Party Property claims, we emphasize becoming involved in the early stages, not only to properly resolve the exposure, but also identify and preserve potential subrogation options, and where necessary devise effective recovery strategies.

Arson and Fraud

CSKL attorneys are particularly adept at identifying and thoroughly investigating fraud and arson claims. Successful defense of these claims requires an immediate and thorough investigation coupled with the integration of services from other disciplines, including cause and origin experts, forensic accountants, and other experts and consultants, as well as Federal and State agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms, State Fire Marshall and Insurance Commissioner, and local police and fire departments. Our attorneys maintain a network of contacts within these various disciplines to promptly initiate and facilitate in-depth investigations. In addition to the investigation and evaluation of the claim, our attorneys analyze and advise the insurer of its duties related to others having an interest in the insurance proceeds, such as mortgagees and innocent co-insureds. Overall, Copeland Stair guides the insurer with respect to the viability of successfully defending a claim based on fraud and/or arson.

Bad Faith

Bad faith or extra-contractual litigation is a staple of the firm’s Insurance Coverage subgroup, as the consequences of coverage decisions often result in bad faith litigation. Copeland Stair is frequently retained to advise and defend its insurer clients against allegations of improper claims handling or other measures seeking extra-contractual damages such as punitive damages. Our attorneys are sensitive to the nature of such claims and promptly devise a resolution strategy that incorporates an aggressive trial plan. Our attorneys have successfully defended numerous matters alleging bad faith or extra-contractual damages through the trial and appellate courts.

The dedication of the firm’s insurance coverage and bad faith litigation attorneys is evident, not only with the service provided to our clients on each engagement, but also with their commitment to continually deepen their experience. Our insurance coverage and bad faith attorneys are frequent writers and speakers on emerging coverage issues confronting insurance professionals, and are involved in numerous local and national industry organizations. Our coverage specialists also maintain and continually update a legal research file addressing the most recent coverage opinions, and provide educational seminars to its insurer clients. Copeland, Stair, Kingma & Lovell is a recognized leader in devising and implementing innovative and result-oriented strategies for resolving policy disputes.

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Sarah Wetmore Butler

Practice Group Co-Chair

Sarah has been practicing law in Charleston, South Carolina for twenty years.  She is a 1999 graduate of the Wake Forest University School of Law.  Sarah focuses her practice in the areas of construction litigation, professional liability, premises liability, personal injury defense, and general insurance defense and coverage. A frequent speaker at seminars and events, Sarah most recently presented at the…


Melissa L. Bailey

Practice Group Co-Chair

Melissa represents her clients in a variety of complex litigation and serves as the Chair of the CSVL Insurance Coverage and Bad Faith Practice Group and Co-Chair of the General Liability Practice Group. A large portion of her practice focuses on advising clients in pre-suit coverage and bad faith claims and litigating those matters to…