An additional insured attempted to argue the “separation of insureds” clause rendered the Action Over Exclusion, an iteration of an employer’s liability exclusion, inapplicable, as it was not the employer of the claimant. The Second Circuit disagreed based on the plain language of the exclusion.
In Endurance American Specialty Insurance Co. v. Century Surety Co., Hayden Building Maintenance Corp. was the general contractor on a construction project at which the plaintiff, who was an employee of Pinnacle Constr. and Renovation Corp., was injured. Hayden sought coverage as an additional insured under the CGL insurance policy issued to Pinnacle by Century Surety Co. Century denied coverage based on the policy’s Action Over Exclusion, which provided that there was no coverage for “bodily injury” to an “employee” of the named insured arising out of and in the course of employment by the named insured, or performing duties related to the conduct of the named insured’s business. Hayden challenged the disclaimer, arguing the exclusion did not apply because Hayden did not employ the plaintiff and the policy’s terms must be applied separately to each insured seeking coverage as per the policy’s Separation of Insureds provision.
Although the district court agreed with Hayden, the Second Circuit reversed and held the Action Over Exclusion unambiguously barred coverage. In particular, the appellate court held the exclusion barred coverage for bodily injury claims brought by an employee of “the named insured,” as opposed to “the insured.” The Court further observed the Action Over Exclusion specifically replaced the Employer’s Liability Exclusion, which used the term “the insured.” The Second Circuit ultimately reversed “because to do otherwise would render the unambiguous language…a nullity.”
Insurance policies are arguably the most hyper-scrutinized class of contracts. As a result, in evaluating coverage, it is critical to evaluate even the most minute distinction in policy terms. Here, an endorsement altered an exclusion by redefining the pertinent class of insured by changing “the insured” to “the named insured.”
Thanks to Christopher Soverow for his contribution to this post. Please contact ">Colleen E. Hayes with any questions.