General Contractor Not Covered By “Additional Insured” Endorsement

I’ve spent more hours than I care to count analyzing and briefing the issue of when and whether a general contractor is covered by an “additional insured” endorsement in a subcontractor’s liability policy. I will refrain from giving all the scintillating details here, but instead refer you for more information to this prior post.
An additional insured endorsement is something general contractors require of subcontractors. The sub must get his liability insurer to list the general as an insured for acts arising out of the subcontractor’s operations. In perhaps the majority of cases, this endorsement is interpreted as extending coverage to the general even for the general contractor’s own negligence, not merely the sub’s negligent acts. In Markel International Ins. Co. v. Centex Homes, LLC, 2006 WL 278920 (D.N.J. February 2, 2006), the court considered a typical scenario involving these endorsements.
A worker for a subcontractor got in a car accident just outside the work site, injuring a woman riding in the other vehicle. Low hanging branches contributed to the accident. The general contractor claimed that its liabilities for failing to trim the trees were covered by the sub’s policy, because “but for” the presence of the sub on the job site, its worker would not have been driving on the road, would not have encountered the branches, and would not have struck the other car. The court appeared ready to accept this analysis, “but for” one thing: the worker’s accident wasn’t really connected with the job site or the sub’s operations. The court therefore denied coverage for the general.

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