Understanding exclusions in insurance policies is important to understand what is and what is not covered under the policy. The recent case of Liberty Mutual Fire Insurance Co. v. MI Windows & Doors, 38 Fla. L. Weekly, D1890a (Fla. 2nd DCA 2013), discusses the “your product” exclusion that is found in CGL policies.
In this case, MI is a manufacturer of sliding glass doors. It sold its doors to All Seasons which installed the sliding glass doors in condominium projects. In some of the condominiums, All Seasons manufactured and installed transoms along the top of the sliding glass doors. Condominium associations sued MI and All Seasons when the condominiums experienced damage from tropical storms and hurricanes. MI settled the lawsuits. It then sued its CGL carrier to recover consequential damages and for the costs of replacing defective sliding glass doors in the condominiums.
The CGL carrier argued at the trial level that the “your product” exclusion barred coverage for MI’s damages to its products, i.e., sliding glass doors. The trial court found that the “your product” exclusion did not apply to the doors with transoms because adding the transoms to the top of the sliding glass doors significantly changed the doors. Thus, the doors were no longer MI’s product.
The “your product” exclusion in MI’s CGL policy provided that the insurance did not apply to:
“Damage to Your Product. ‘Property Damage’ to ‘your product’ arising out of it or any part of it.”
On appeal, the Second District reversed finding that “[t]he addition of transoms to the sliding glass doors did not fundamentally change the nature and function of those doors.” MI Windows & Doors, supra. In other words, because the sliding glass doors continued to operate as sliding glass doors even with the addition of the transoms, the doors remained MI’s product. For this reason, the Second District held that the “your product” exclusion applied to bar damages to replace the doors.
In MI Windows & Doors, the Court found that if alchemy alters the original product, then the “your product” exclusion may not apply based on cases outside of Florida that discuss this exclusion. Importantly, however, the Court footnoted Auto-Owners Ins. Co. v. American Building Materials, Inc., 820 F.Supp.2d 1265, 1272 (M.D.Fla. 2011), where the Middle District of Florida also discussed this exclusion. The Middle District in this case maintained that drywall that was incorporated into a house was not barred by the “your product” exclusion based on the language of the exclusion because the drywall, once incorporated, became real property and the exclusion did not apply to real property. Because this case or issue was not framed on appeal in MI Windows & Doors, the Court did not apply this case to the facts.
The “your product” exclusion can be found in CGL policies to bar coverage. Understanding the exclusion as written in the policy (as well as other exclusions) is important so that coverage is understood before or when a dispute arises.
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