The UK Commercial Court recently considered the ambit and extent of insurance coverage between Flexsys America LP and XL International Corp. In particular, the court was left to interpret whether a reinstatement provision (which are sometimes found in reinsurance agreements) in the master insurance policy should be made to provide additional coverage for a claim governed by a local policy extended to Flexsys by a company related to XL. In 2006, a Korean company (KKPC) filed a complaint alleging improper and illegal conduct by Flexsys. Flexsys claimed indemnity under a provision in the local policy. Flexsys settled the claim and incurred legal costs of over $2 million. The local policy carriers (who expressly denied liability) settled with Flexsys for the policy limit of $1 million. Flexsys sought recovery of the balance from the master policy insurers (the Defendants) alleging that the “Drop Down Clause” included in the master policy provided “umbrella” coverage that would provide a higher limit of indemnity.

The judge, Lord Tomlinson, rejected Flexsys’ argument, and interpreted the language of the Drop Down Clause to provide for a reinstatement of the local policy for “subsequent claims” and not, as Flexsys asserted, for the same claim. Further, the judge rejected Flexsys’ position that such a low level of coverage ($1M) was commercially unreasonable. The court could not address this question without dramatically altering the scope of the lawsuit to determine the range of commercial considerations necessary for such a decision. Finally, Lord Tomlinson concluded that Flexsys would not be reimbursed for additional legal expenses under the local policy because the claim at issue by the Korean company (product disparagement) was subject to an exclusion under the local policy. Flexsys Am. L.P. v. XL Ins. Co. Ltd., [2009] EWHC 1115 (Comm. Ct. May 20, 2009).