The Court of Appeals, in a full-fledged opinion by Judge Wilson, determined that when a mutual insurance company which issued professional liability policies to medical professionals demutualizes, where the employer paid the premiums, the distribution of cash consideration goes to the employee, not the employer:
Medical Liability Mutual Insurance Company (MLMIC), formerly a mutual insurance company, issued professional liability insurance policies to the eight medical professionals who are litigants in the eight cases before us on these appeals. The premiums for those policies were paid by their employers. In October 2018, MLMIC demutualized and was acquired by National Indemnity Company. Pursuant to its “Plan of Conversion”—approved by the New York State Department of Financial Services—MLMIC sought to distribute $2.502 billion in cash consideration to “Eligible Policyholders.”
The question presented is as follows: when an employer pays premiums to a mutual insurance company to obtain a policy for its employee, and the insurance company demutualizes, who is entitled to the proceeds from demutualization: the employer or the employee? We answer that, absent contrary terms in the contract of employment, insurance policy, or separate agreement, the employee, who is the policyholder, is entitled to the proceeds. Columbia Mem. Hosp. v Hinds, 2022 NY Slip Op 03306, CtApp 5-19-22
Practice Point: Here the employer paid the premiums to a mutual insurance company for medical malpractice insurance for its employees (doctors). When the company demutualizes, absent some contractual provision to the contrary, the cash consideration, here $2.5 billion, is distributed to the employees (doctors), not the employer.