NY's High Court Finds Insurer Required To Defend & Indemnify Landlord
In a decision that was handed down on June 25, New York's Court of Appeals was confronted with an unusual question: under what circumstances can someone (or, as in this case, a small business in New York) be deemed an additional insured on an insurance contract (such that the insurance company is obligated to defend and indemnify them against a personal injury claim under the policy), even if they are not actually named as additional insureds on the insurance policy? Although you would think that the answer to this question is probably "never," you'd be mistaken; in Cassis v. Ohio Cas. Ins. Co., the Court of Appeals (New York's highest court) held that since the landlord's underlying contract with its tenant (the insured) obligated the tenant to procure proper insurance that named the landlord as an additional insured on its own commercial liability insurance policy, and the tenant's policy expressly stated that coverage would be provided to anyone that the tenant was obligated to name as an additional insured on this policy pursuant to a written contract or agreement, the insurer must be held on the hook to cover the landlord. At first blush, this decision would perhaps present a significant area of concern for insurers. However, a more careful reading of this decision suggests that the Court deemed the facts of this case somewhat unique (I, for one, do not recall ever seeing such language with regard to additional named insureds being employed in an insurance policy), and that this case is of limited precedential value. Time will tell.
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