How You Plead Allegations to Trigger Liability Insurer’s Duties Is Critical

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If there is no duty to defend, there will be no duty to indemnify the insured to cover your damages.

November 1, 2021
David Adelstein - Florida Construction Legal Updates

How you plead allegations in your lawsuit to trigger duties of a liability insurance carrier is a critical consideration. If the complaint is not pled appropriately, it can result in the carrier NOT owing a duty to defend its insured, which is the party(ies) you are suing. If there is no duty to defend, there will be no duty to indemnify the insured to cover your damages. For this reason, in a number of circumstances, this is NOT what you want because you want to trigger insurance coverage and potential proceeds to be paid by a carrier to cover your damages. There are times when you are confronted with a case that just is not a good insurance coverage case. This may result in you coming up with creative arguments to maximize insurance coverage. Even in these times, you want to plead the complaint to best maximize coverage under the creative arguments you have developed.

An example of not pleading allegations in a complaint to trigger an insurer’s duties can be found in the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeal’s decision in Tricon Development of Brevard, Inc. v. Nautilus Insurance Co., 2021 WL 4129373 (11th Cir. 2021). This case involved a general contractor constructing condominiums. The general contractor hired a subcontractor to fabricate and install metal railings. The subcontractor had a commercial general liability (CGL) policy that named the general contractor as an additional insured with respect to liability for property damage “caused in whole or in part” by the subcontractor’s direct or vicarious acts or omissions. (This is a good additional insured endorsement.)

Mr. Adelstein may be contacted at dma@kirwinnorris.com



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