Maritime Character of Insurance is Determined by Examining Whole Policy

Tuesday, July 05, 2005
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled that the maritime character of an insurance policy is determined by examining the entire policy, not just the portion involved in a dispute. In the instant case, a ship tank cleaning business (through its corporate parent) purchased insurance from defendant insurer’s predecessor in interest. The insurance contract contained a Shiprepairers Legal Liability (SLL) policy coupled with a modified Comprehensive General Liability (CGL) policy. The CGL policy was basically similar to one that might be issued to a shoreside business, but contained a number of maritime modifications. A subcontractor’s employee was injured while cleaning the oil tank of a barge moored in New York Harbor and brought suit against the insured. The insurance company contended that the policy was maritime in nature and that the doctrine of utmost good faith applied. The insured contended that the maritime aspects of the policy were merely incidental and that state insurance law applied. The court held that an insurance policy’s predominant purpose, as measured by the dimensions of the contingency insured against and the risk assumed, determines the nature of the insurance. Since the primary purpose of the policy in this case was to insure against risks related to ship tank cleaning, the court determined that it was maritime insurance. Folksamerica Reinsurance Company v. Clean Water of New York, Inc., No. 03-9124 (2nd Cir. - HK Law)

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