Builder’s risk insurance coverage is a vital property insurance coverage during the course of construction. Builder’s risk insurance is not a one-size-fits-all product so please make sure you are working with your insurance broker to procure this product that factors in and covers risk associated with the project.
Builder’s risk insurance is typically an occurrence-based policy. No different than other occurrence-based policies (such as commercial general liability), a dispute may arise as to the occurrence. This could be due to the triggering of the actual policy during the coverage period or it could be due deductible obligations, as in the case discussed below. When dealing with a builder’s risk insurance policy–again, no different than any policy–the language in the policy matters. Definitions used in the policy to define specific terms matter and, in numerous cases, the ordinary dictionary meanings of terms matter. But it all starts with the policy language.
In KT State & Lemon, LLP v. Westchester Fire Insurance Co., 2023 WL 2456499 (M.D.Fla. 2023), a builder’s risk policy provided coverage from April 2018 through the end of November 2019. There was a $50,000 per occurrence deductible for loss caused by or from water damage. An extension to the builder’s risk policy was negotiated through the end of January 2020 that increased this water damage deductible to $250,000 per occurrence. During construction and the testing of the fire suppression (sprinkler) system, leaks started to occur resulting in water damage. Two leaks occurred in September 2019, one leak in October 2019, one leak in November 2019, and two leaks in December 2019 (during the extension and higher water damage deductible period).