The United States Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit, recently took a close look at the application of a “controlled insurance program exclusion” (wrap-up exclusion) to additional insureds on a commercial general liability policy. In Cont’l Cas. Co. v. Amerisure Ins. Co., 886 F.3d 366 (4th Cir. 2018), the Fourth Circuit examined the interplay of an enrolled party’s additional insured status on an unenrolled party’s commercial general liability (“CGL”) policy with a wrap-up exclusion. The court applied North Carolina law and found that pursuant to the policy’s own language, the exclusion only applied to the original named insured, not the additional insureds.
The case arose out of an injury incurred by an employee of a second-tier subcontractor during the construction of a hospital. On this particular project, the owner maintained a “rolling owner controlled insurance program” (wrap-up insurance program) in which all tiers of contractors were required to enroll, but enrollment was not automatic. The general contractor was enrolled in the owner’s wrap-up policy, but neither the steel manufacturer subcontractor nor its sub-subcontractor, the steel installation company, were enrolled. The underlying plaintiff was injured while he was an employee of the steel installation company, but he did not name his employer in his personal injury lawsuit.
The Cont’l Cas. Co. case was instituted by Continental Casualty Company (“Continental”) after it defended and settled the underlying plaintiff’s claims against its insured and additional insured, the steel manufacturer and general contractor, respectively. Continental sought to be reimbursed for the $1.7 million settlement and attorneys’ fees and costs incurred for the defense and indemnity of the underlying lawsuit.
Continental alleged that Amerisure Insurance Company (“Amerisure”) breached its duty to defend and Amerisure’s policy provided the primary coverage for both the general contractor and steel manufacturer, who were additional insureds on the Amerisure policy. Amerisure denied a duty to defend the additional insureds based on the presence of the wrap-up exclusion.