Transport Insurance Company v. Superior Court (2014) 222 Cal.App.4th 1216.
By: Richard H. Glucksman, Jon A. Turigliatto, and Kacey R. Riccomini
June 4, 2014
The Second District Court of Appeal’s recent decision, Transport Insurance Company v. Superior Court (2014) 222 Cal.App.4th 1216, immediately affects builders and contractors (collectively “builders”) who are often named as additional insureds (AIs) to contractors’ general liability policies. The decision is an important tool for builders’ counsel because the builder’s reasonable expectations can alter the interpretation of ambiguous terms in policies issued to subcontractors. Essentially, the builder’s intent is relevant to the interpretation of policy terms because the subcontractor’s intent in requesting additional coverage depends on the agreement it made with the builder. The salient aspects of the facts, the Appellate Court’s reasoning, and practical considerations are discussed below.
Transport Insurance Company (Transport) issued a commercial excess and umbrella liability policy (Policy) to Vulcan Materials Company (Vulcan), naming R.R. Street & Co., Inc. (Street) as an AI for its distribution of a solvent. The Policy provided that Transport would indemnify and defend the insured for loss caused by property damage if (1) it was not covered by “underlying insurance” but was within the terms of coverage of the Policy, or (2) if the limits of liability of the “underlying insurance” were exhausted during the Policy period due to property damage. The Policy included a Schedule of Underlying Insurance (Schedule) that listed policies issued to Vulcan. Thereafter, Vulcan and Street were named as defendants in several environmental contamination actions (Underlying Actions).