Notable Insurance Coverage Rulings in the First Half of 2014

By Jonathan Hardin and Feola Odeyemi

2014 is shaping up to be a momentous year in insurance coverage law.  State and federal courts have already issued several important coverage decisions this year that nevertheless may have slipped "under the radar."  This commentary examines such key rulings. While courts continue to focus primarily on the meaning of specific policy language, these cases reveal that judges are concerned that their interpretations are consistent with the purpose of the insurance coverage in question. The issues covered in this commentary include:

•  Whether an umbrella insurer has a duty to defend when an underlying primary insurer wrongly denies coverage;

•  Whether an insurer has the duty to defend a policyholder from liability resulting from its product being hacked by outsiders;

•  Whether horizontal exhaustion applies to umbrella and/or excess insurers;

•  Whether an umbrella policy is triggered when underlying insurance is exhausted by claims not covered by the umbrella policy;

•  Whether a pollution exclusion and/or an indoor air exclusion is applicable to wrongful death claims from carbon monoxide poisoning; and

•  Whether the standard contractual liability exclusion precludes coverage for claims arising out of a contractor’s failure to complete its work in a “good and workmanlike manner.”

 

Jonathan Hardin is an associate in the Insurance Recovery practice at Perkins Coie LLP.

Feola Odeyemi is a summer associate at Perkins Coie LLP and rising 2L at Harvard Law School.

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