1. Understanding the “Products-Completed Operations Hazard”
ISO commercial general liability (“CGL”) policies use the term “products-completed operations hazard” (“PCOH”) to define a category of risk which is treated specially by certain exclusions within the policy and often subject to separate limits of insurance. In construction, we think about PCOH as being about coverage for completed work.
Bodily injury and property damage arising out of completed work is a significant construction risk. Most construction contracts include warranty and indemnity obligations for completed work. All states allow lawsuits to be brought alleging bodily injury or property damage because of completed work based on common law. Contract and common law claims are subject to statutes of limitation – laws which define the time in which suits must be brought. Most states provide exceptions to their statutes of limitation for common law claims – the most common example is an extension to file a lawsuit based on a latent defect until the defect is discovered. Most states also have “statutes of repose” – laws that set a date after which suit may no longer be brought, no matter what the circumstances are. A construction contractor, therefore, has potential liability until the statute of repose period has expired. Thus, a contractor looks to ensure that it has coverage for the PCOH for its full statute of repose liability period.