imagesHRB623GAParties involved in construction are familiar with the phrase “waiver of subrogation” because there is commonly, and virtually always, a waiver of subrogation provision in the construction contract.  For instance, the AIA Document A201 (General Conditions) contains a waiver of subrogation provision for damages or loss covered by builder’s risk property insurance.  A waiver of subrogation provision prevents an insurance company from paying a claim and then stepping in the shoes of the insured (through subrogation) to sue a waived third party responsible for the claim.  To ensure the waiver of subrogation provision does not conflict with any other rights in the contract, the A201’s waiver of subrogation provision provides: “A waiver of subrogation shall be effective as to a person or entity even though that person or entity would otherwise have a duty of indemnification, contractual or otherwise, did not pay the insurance premium directly or indirectly, and whether or not the person or entity had an insurable interest in the property damaged.”


For example, let’s assume a fire during construction caused substantial damage to an owner’s property.  The owner submitted a builder’s risk claim and it was determined that the damage caused by the fire (peril) was covered.  Let’s assume the fire was attributed to the negligence of the contractor and its electrical subcontractor.  With waiver of subrogation language, the carrier cannot pay the claim to the owner and then subrogate to the interests of the owner to pursue claims directly against the contractor and/or electrical subcontractor to recoup the proceeds it paid to the owner.  This waiver would apply even though the owner’s contract with its contractor required the contractor to indemnify the owner for damage caused by the contractor or the contractor’s subcontractor’s negligence.  Without the waiver of subrogation language, the carrier would not be deprived of this subrogation right.



waiver of rightsIn addition to the waiver of subrogation relating to builder’s risk property insurance, parties are requesting waivers of subrogation endorsements for CGL policies and other liability policies.  With CGL policies, the waiver of subrogation endorsement is referred to as the “Waiver of Transfer of Rights of Recovery Against Others to Us” endorsement.  Sometimes parties want a blanket waiver or at least they want to know they are specifically identified in the endorsement to ensure the CGL carrier waives a subrogation claim against it if the carrier pays out insurance proceeds.   This endorsement is important because without it a party could be breaching its insurance policy and voiding applicable coverage by contractually agreeing to waive subrogation that is in conflict with the policy’s subrogation language.  If a carrier is willing to issue this endorsement (and there are times it may not), it will usually come at a cost through a higher premium, etc., since the waiver of subrogation impacts an insurer’s risk assessment.


I like contractual waiver of subrogation language relating to builder’s risk property insurance claims.  As long as the insurance broker and carrier are aware of the contractual waiver so that there is not any issue that the waiver impacts policy language / coverage (and, the broker and carrier should inquire since it’s become boilerplate language in construction contracts), the waiver of subrogation allows a covered claim to be paid without an otherwise waived party worried about whether the carrier is going to try to later recoup losses against it.


From an owner or contractor’s perspective, I also usually like the idea of the party being hired to provide the waiver of subrogation endorsement / waiver of transfer of rights endorsement in its CGL policy irrespective of the requirement to identify the hiring (or paying) party as an additional insured.  The primary reason is that in the event there is any issue whatsoever with the additional insured status under the hired party’s policy such that it does not apply  to the hiring party (e.g., additional insured status of a general contractor under its hired subcontractor’s policy), with the waiver of subrogation, if the hired party’s policy pays it has at least waived its right to recoup that money against the hiring party through subrogation.


I know there are some parties that do not like waiver of subrogation language, especially with CGL policies, due to underwriting issues that it poses and/or potential increased premium costs associated with the endorsement.  Sure, this is true.  But, a waiver of subrogation does enable a dispute to be streamlined by allocating risk to a party that is in a position to control the risk and has insurance to cover that risk and by reducing continued litigation associated with a claim.


Please contact David Adelstein at or (954) 361-4720 if you have questions or would like more information regarding this article. You can follow David Adelstein on Twitter @DavidAdelstein1.


imagesCT1IPCAYBuilder’s risk insurance is a form of all-risk property insurance that protects an owner’s property / project from perils during the course of construction subject to the exclusions identified in the policy. Sometimes there is the question when negotiating a contract between an owner and general contractor whether to name the contractor as an additional named insured (along with the owner) and/or a loss payee under the builder’s risk insurance policy procured by the owner.  A contractor prefers, and should prefer, to be included as a named insured and/or loss payee to ensure it is protected and paid for a covered loss during construction. In reality, it is much better for the contractor to be identified as a named insured; being identified as a loss payee simply means the contractor can be paid insurance proceeds (it can be named on the check), but it is not an insured under the policy.



Each of the standard form construction agreements contain slightly different language regarding a contractor’s interest under a builder’s risk policy procured by the owner.  For example, the AIA would require the builder’s risk insurance to include the interests of the owner, the general contractor, subcontractors, and sub-subcontractors.  Ok; this makes sense but it does not specifically require the owner to name these entities as named insureds under the policy and/or loss payees. Rather, the AIA contains language that allows the owner to adjust the claim as a fiduciary with the payment made to the owner as a fiduciary.  The ConsensusDOCS provide better language for the contractor that would require the owner to name the contractor as a named insured.  Again, being identified as a named insured is preferable as it allows the contractor to assert a builder’s risk claim directly against the policy as an insured.  And, from an owner’s perspective, sometimes it is preferable to allow the contractor to assert a claim for a loss associated with a peril that may be covered even if the peril is due to the negligence of the contractor.  While the standard form contracts require the owner to bear the cost of the deductible, an owner may want to shift that deductible to the contractor if the contractor is seeking to recoup losses under the policy for a peril due to its negligence.


Finally, the standard form contracts do contain a waiver of subrogation for losses against the owner, contractor, subcontractors, etc. to the extent covered by property insurance.  This means that the property insurer is waiving rights to recoup insurance proceeds it paid associated with a claim against a third party included in the waiver of subrogation provision.  This provision should not be deleted as the contractual waiver of subrogation benefits both the owner and contractor.


Please contact David Adelstein at or (954) 361-4720 if you have questions or would like more information regarding this article. You can follow David Adelstein on Twitter @DavidAdelstein1.




health-insuranceThere are situations where an owner sues its property insurer (or builders risk insurer) in addition to suing its contractor or design professional for defects / damage. Sometimes, the owner’s lawsuit against its insurer is filed simultaneously with the lawsuit against its contractor and sometimes it is filed before or after it settles its dispute with its contractor. The contractor, if it knows the owner is suing its insurer, wants to ensure that once it settles with an owner, that the owner’s insurer will not pursue a subrogation claim against it. (In a subrogation claim, an insurer that pays its insured can stand in the shoes of the insured and sue third parties deemed liable for the claim.)

If a contractor settles with an owner and obtains a well-written release (that would release the contractor for all claims [known and unknown], damages, etc. arising out of or relating to the project and subject matter of the lawsuit/claim, etc.) the insurer will be precluded from asserting a subrogation claim against the contractor. The reason being is that the insured owner already released the contractor. See, e.g., Landmark American Ins. Co. v. Santa Rosa Beach Development Corp., 107 So.3d 1135 (Fla. 1st DCA 2012) (condominium development’s agreement with developer and contractor that was interpreted as containing release barred development’s insurer from seeking subrogation claim).
However, if the insurer is already suing the contractor in a subrogation claim or has perfected its rights, the contractor cannot try to settle with the owner and obtain a release thinking that the insurer’s claim would then be barred. The insurer cannot be prejudiced like this, especially if it already perfected its subrogation rights. For instance, in Twin City Fire Ins. Co. v. Jones, 918 So.2d 403 (Fla. 5th DCA 2006), an insurer paid an insured’s claim and then sued the defendants in a subrogation claim. The insured also filed a separate lawsuit against the defendants. The insured settled with the defendants and released the defendants. The defendants used the release to argue that the insurer should be barred from its subrogation claim. The Fifth District held that “a settlement executed by the insured cannot act as a bar to an action for subrogation by the insurer against a third party tortfeasor if, prior to the settlement, the tortfeasor learns of the insurer’s perfected subrogation rights. Twin City Fire Ins. Co., 918 So.2d at 404 quoting Lincoln Nat’l Health & Cas. Ins. Co. v. Mitsubishi Motor Sales of Am., Inc., 666 So.2d 159, 163 (Fla. 5th DCA 1995).

Understanding an insurer’s subrogation rights is important in construction. Oftentimes, there are waiver of subrogation rights that are set forth in contracts. Sometimes, these provisions are either stricken or the contract does not contain a waiver of subrogation. It is important to consider subrogation as a contractor if you have knowledge that the party suing you is also suing an insurer and/or you are being sued by an insurer in a subrogation claim (or the insurer has taken steps to perfect subrogation rights) so that you know your rights and options as the dispute progresses to settlement.


Please contact David Adelstein at or (954) 361-4720 if you have questions or would like more information regarding this article. You can follow David Adelstein on Twitter @DavidAdelstein1.