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Michael S. Olsan Partner

Chair, Commercial Litigation Department
Philadelphia, PA | Direct 215.864.6278Fax 215.789.7508
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When insurers and reinsurers need creative solutions to complex problems, they call on Michael Olsan to partner with them and provide sound counsel and representation. Advising insurance and reinsurance companies for over 30 years, Michael understands the business of insurance. He has significant reinsurance arbitration experience with matters involving follow-the-fortunes, accumulation of claims, recovery of declaratory judgment expenses, premium adjustment, offset, insolvencies, billing of asbestos claims under clash treaties, breach of warranties, misrepresentation in the procurement of reinsurance, sexual molestation claims and recovery for extra-contractual obligations and payments in excess of policy limits on behalf of ceding companies and reinsurers.

Michael has taken many of his cases to final arbitration award with a substantial success rate. As a counselor, Michael advises his clients on a wide array of issues including the applicability of reinsurance contracts to particular claims, posing or responding to inquiries about reinsurance billings and drafting new or renewal contract wordings.

In addition to his reinsurance practice, Michael represents major property and casualty companies in coverage disputes in financial lines, environmental, asbestos and mass tort liability cases, many of which involve tens of millions of dollars in coverage potentially recoverable from his clients. He was lead counsel in a major asbestos bankruptcy case that resulted in denial of plan confirmation in favor of the insurance carriers. Additionally, he has substantial experience successfully mediating complex coverage disputes. He also counsels his clients on coverage issues arising out of a variety of insurance policies in an effort to avoid expensive and contentious litigation.

As Chair of the Commercial Litigation Department, Michael manages over 75 attorneys practicing in a wide variety of areas, including commercial litigation, insurance coverage, cyber law and data privacy, intellectual property and labor and employment. Michael is also Vice Chair of the firm’s Executive Committee and is a member of the Partner Compensation Committee. He has served as Dean of the White and Williams Coverage College® for over 5 years. Michael is a frequent speaker at reinsurance seminars and is also a fellow of the Academy of Advocacy of Temple University.

Representative Matters

  • Successfully argued to the New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division – First Department that a reinsurer’s statute of limitations defense should be decided by arbitration panel rather than the court
  • Represented ceding companies concerning the application of treaty retentions to multi-year policies
  • Represented a ceding company in arbitrating issues arising out of sexual molestation claims
  • Represented a reinsurance broker in an arbitration involving premium adjustment issues
  • Represented ceding companies in issues involving Bellefonte
  • Served as project manager for an insurance company overseeing the billing and collection of tens of millions of dollars in reinsurance recovery
  • Successfully resolved a claim alleging a client’s website was inaccessible to visually impaired people in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
  • Represented a property casualty company in recovering reinsurance for asbestos claims under clash reinsurance treaties
  • Obtained declaratory judgment on behalf of several ceding companies implementing claims handling protocols and requiring reinsurers to reimburse payment of asbestos claims
  • Recovered reinsurance on behalf of an issuer of surety bonds to Enron
  • Obtained summary judgment on behalf of reinsurer based on treaty’s exclusion of extra-contractual obligations
  • Successfully defeated a reinsurer's claim that a ceding company client had breached a warranty contained in a treaty
  • Advised major property casualty company on Treaty wording for new line of business in South America
  • Represented Century Indemnity Company in defeating plan confirmation in In re Pittsburgh Corning

Recognition & Involvement

Since 2007, Michael has been selected in a survey of his peers as a Pennsylvania "Super Lawyer" by Super Lawyers. Michael was recently selected by his peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America 2021 list in the practice areas of Insurance Law, Litigation - Insurance and Reinsurance Law.

Michael has been nominated by his peers and named to Who’s Who in Legal for his work in the field of Insurance and Reinsurance.

Michael is a pro bono attorney with the Support Center for Child Advocates.

Michael is the immediate past Chair of the Leadership Council of Franklin & Marshall College and served on the Board of Trustees. 


Bar and Court Admissions


New Jersey

U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey

U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania


Syracuse University College of Law, summa cum laude, 1989

Franklin and Marshall College, BA, 1986 



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