The Fifth Circuit ruled that settlements between an insured and its subcontractors qualified as “other insurance” to the extent those settlements were used to pay for damages covered by an excess insurance policy. Policyholders should note the outcome of this case as it demonstrates the significant impact that settlements can have on coverage.
Satterfield & Pontikes Construction, Inc. v. Amerisure Mutual Ins. Co.1 was the result of a construction project gone wrong. Zapata County, Texas hired Satterfield & Pontikes (“S&P”) as a general contractor for the construction of a courthouse building. When the project did not go as planned, Zapata County terminated S&P, hired new subcontractors to complete the project, and sued S&P.
S&P, in turn, sought indemnification from its subcontractors, who were contractually obligated to indemnify S&P and procure insurance for any damage the subcontractors caused at the project. S&P also sought coverage from its own primary insurers, American Guarantee and Liability Insurance Company (“AGLIC”) and Amerisure Mutual Insurance Company (“Amerisure”), and its excess insurer, U.S. Fire Insurance Company (“U.S. Fire”) who provided liability coverage for S&P’s potential liabilities at the project. The policies contained exclusions for losses arising from mold and did not provide coverage for attorney’s fees or similar legal costs.