Thursday, October 20, 2011

Coverage for construction defects

When a construction contractor brings a claim under its general liability policy for coverage of construction defects -- construction that was faulty and needs to be redone, but did not cause injuries to people or damage to other property -- Massachusetts courts generally analyze (and deny) the claim under up to six exclusions, often referred to as the "your work" or, more accurately, "builder's risk," exclusions. In many policies the exclusions have some holes in them, however, depending on when and where the damage occurred and whether the work was done by the insured contractor or by a subcontractor. When I work on such a case I often make a chart which I stare at until I am bleary-eyed.

This article in Insurance Journal notes a wide variation from state to state in how construction defects are analyzed:

On whether faulty workmanship is itself an occurrence, some states say yes, some states say no, some states are undecided, and some states say faulty workmanship is not an occurrence but the resulting damage is. “You also see differences in states in other issues as well."

It should be noted that there are Builder's Risk policies available that will cover contractors for construction defects. I have yet to come across a contractor that actually has such a policy, but that may be because those claims get resolved without the help of counsel.

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