What do you do when less is more? In many loss scenarios, triggering coverage under multiple policies can be a critical and effective strategy. However, doing so has the potential to complicate the insurance recovery proceedings immensely, and possibly even undermine those overall goals. The relation of "other insurance" clauses, allocation schemes, and the practical impacts of interacting with multiple insurers can all leave the insured with some difficult questions.
We present here several scenarios that illustrate how these concerns can arise and how they should be addressed to avoid running into what The Notorious B.I.G.—had he been a coverage lawyer—would have called "The More Coverage We Come Across, the More Problems We See."
The "Other Insurance" Issue
This first scenario is where a single-year loss implicates multiple lines of coverage. Consider the following: a general contractor (GC) faces a property damage liability claim from an owner. As a prudent insured, the GC notifies its customary first line of defense, its commercial general liability (CGL) insurer, to provide a defense. As knowledge of the claim evolves, it appears an element of pollution may be involved. The GC also places its pollution insurer on notice. Later, it's determined that the GC may have a professional liability exposure, so it tenders a claim to its professional liability insurer. Now assume that each insurer accepts coverage.
Reprinted courtesy of Saxe Doernberger & Vita attorneys Gregory D. Podolak, Philip B. Wilusz and Ashley McWilliams
Mr. Podolak may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Mr. Wilusz may be contacted at email@example.com
Ms. McWilliams may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org