A federal court in Florida held that a follow-form excess policy did not provide coverage for an assault or battery claim where the CGL policy contained a “sublimit of liability” for assault and battery claims. Starstone Nat’l Ins. Co. v. Polynesian Inn, LLC, No. 6:18-cv-1048-Orl-31EJK, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 144507 (M.D. Fla. Aug. 2019).
The insured operated a hotel at which two guests were attacked by an assailant, resulting in the death of one and injuries to the second. The hotel’s CGL policy contained an endorsement titled “Limited Assault Or Battery Liability Coverage,” which provided a “sublimit of liability” of $25,000 for claims resulting from an assault or battery. The excess policy was a follow-form policy except in respect to, among others, any “sublimit of liability” unless specifically endorsed onto the excess policy. The excess insurer filed a declaratory judgment action to determine coverage under the excess policy, and moved for summary judgment, that the $25,000 sublimit for assault claims was a “sublimit of liability,” and therefore its policy did not follow form to coverage for assault claims.
court found that the CGL policy’s $25,000 in coverage for bodily injury caused by an assault or battery offense was a sublimit as that term was used in the excess carrier’s policy. court analyzed the term “sublimit” and concluded that the term “sublimit of liability” means a limit on a subcategory of liability, which the court concluded the $25,000 sublimit for assault and battery was. court rejected the insured’s argument that the lower assault and battery limit was a standalone limit, not a sublimit, which would have required the excess insurer to cover for assault claims exceeding the $25,000 in coverage provided by the CGL policy.