Being an additional insured is a topic discussed, and it absolutely should be, in the negotiation of construction contracts. It is an important part of risk management in construction. An owner wants its contractor and consultants to name it as an additional insured under their liability policies. A contractor, likewise, wants its subcontractors, etc. to name it as an additional insured under their liability policies.
Let’s say a general contractor wants its window/glazing subcontractor to name it as an additional insured under the subcontractor’s commercial general liability (CGL) policy. The window subcontractor would be the primary or named insured under its CGL policy. The general contractor, smartly, wants the window subcontractor’s CGL policy to have an endorsement that identifies the general contractor as an additional insured under that policy (ideally, for both ongoing and completed operations). By adding the general contractor as an additional insured, the window subcontractor is protecting / providing coverage to the general contractor for the window subcontractor’s negligence. It is not designed to protect the general contractor for its negligence — so the general contractor will still need its own liability insurance; rather, it is again designed to provide coverage to the general contractor for the window subcontractor’s negligence.
Let’s also say that during the subcontractor’s operations or after, an incorrectly installed window simply fell and caused an injury to a person or damage to property other than the window. (Yes, an extreme example!) As a result of the injury / damage, both the general contractor and the window subcontractor get sued. The general contractor will seek indemnification from the window subcontractor and the subcontractor’s CGL policy as an additional insured under the subcontractor’s policy. The reason being is that the general contractor wants to be indemnified by the subcontractor and have the subcontractor’s insurer provide it a defense and coverage because the window fell out due to the subcontractor’s negligence.
In this situation, either the window subcontractor’s CGL insurer should provide (pay for) a defense for both the window subcontractor (named insured) and the general contractor (additional insured) subject to the insurer’s reservation of rights. This can be done by the insurer retaining counsel for both the named insured or additional insured or, which may be the case in a multi-party litigation such as a multi-party construction defect case, contributing to the general contractor’s defense.
Importantly, in the recent decision of University of Miami v. Great American Insurance Co., 38 Fla. Law Weekly D392a (Fla. 3d DCA 2013), the Third District maintained that where both the named insured and additional insured have been sued in negligence with allegations that both caused the injury / damage to the plaintiff, the insurer (for the named insurer) is required to provide separate defense counsel for each in order to avoid conflicts of interest with one defense counsel. This is done to ensure that the additional insured has independent counsel to represent its interests.
Understanding rights of an additional insured is a must for any construction project in order to maximize insurance coverage and indemnification rights.
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