Risk transfer in the construction industry depends heavily on industry-standard insurance language. Insurance provisions in subcontracts typically reference ISO standard insurance terminology or endorsements in order to guarantee (or, at least, attempt to secure) coverage for upstream parties. The contract may require, for example, that a subcontractor maintains general liability insurance on a “current ISO occurrence form,” and name upstream parties as additional insureds, and both parties will have a general understanding of what that entails for purposes of risk transfer.
Problems arise, however, when insurance companies stray from standard language, especially on issues that go to the heart of construction risk transfer. In some instances, provisions that track ISO language may contain subtle changes that seem to meet the contractual insurance requirements. Upon closer scrutiny, it could significantly change how a policy will respond to a given claim. Given the extent of potential liability arising from construction projects, if the insurance programs intended to back up risk transfer and indemnity agreements do not respond as expected, all the potentially liable parties may be left in the lurch.
Reprinted courtesy of Theresa A. Guertin, Saxe Doernberger & Vita and Eric M. Clarkson, Saxe Doernberger & Vita
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