On December 4, 2014, the Second Circuit addressed whether a facultative reinsurance certificate (“certificate”) covering an umbrella policy obligates a reinsurer to indemnify expense payments in addition to losses. The Court found the certificate ambiguous as to whether the reinsurer’s reimbursement liability included expense payments and consequently remanded and vacated the instant action back to the Northern District of New York.
Utica Mutual Insurance Company (“Utica”) issued an umbrella policy to Goulds Pumps Inc. (“Goulds”), exposing the carrier to significant payment obligations stemming from asbestos claims against Goulds. As reinsurer, Munich Reinsurance America, Inc. (“Munich”) paid out $5 million dollars, the limit under the certificate. Utica filed suit for additional unpaid and future expense payments associated with the Goulds’ policy. The trial court granted summary judgment for Munich reasoning that the certificate’s $5 million limit of liability applied to expenses and therefore Munich’s obligation for reimbursement had been met.
Distinguishing prior case law that found certificates “unambiguously expense-inclusive,” the Second Circuit found this certificate ambiguous as to expense-inclusion. They reasoned that Munich’s obligations to Utica for “losses or damages” to the liability limit on the certificate could be construed as specifically excluding expenses. The Court also noted that “settlement payments,” while not expressly included in the liability limit, were considered part of the calculation. The Court remanded the action to allow the trial court to interpret the certificate’s inclusion or exclusion of expenses. Utica Mut. Ins. Co. v. Munich Reins. Am. Inc., No. 13-4170-cv (2d Cir. Dec. 4, 2014).