In Taylor v. Admiral Insurance Company, ____ S.3d ____ (Fla. 3rd DCA February 10, 2016), Ms. Taylor sued Hello Florida, Villa Vizcaya and Miami-Dade County as a result of a slip and fall injury. Hello Florida was the named insured under the Admiral Comprehensive General Liability Insurance policy. Hello Florida was Ms. Taylor’s employer. Villa Vizcaya and the County qualified as additional insureds under the policy.
Admiral Insurance refused to defend or indemnify Hello Florida, Villa Vizcaya and the County. Admiral Insurance properly claimed that the Absolute Employer’s Liability exclusion allowed it to deny coverage for all claims by Taylor (the employee) against Hello Florida (the employer). Admiral Insurance further claimed the Absolute Employer’s Liability exclusion also excluded all coverage for all claims against Villa Vizcaya and the County.
After the denial of coverage, Villa Vizcaya and the County settled its claims with Taylor with a Coblentz Agreement. As part of the Coblentz, Villa Vizcaya and the County assigned to Taylor all claims that it had against Admiral Insurance.
Taylor sued Admiral Insurance as assignee of the Villa Vizcaya and County claims. The Trial Court granted Admiral Insurance summary judgment on the Absolute Employer’s Liability exclusion.
However, the policy also contained a Separation of Insureds provision which stated that “this insurance applies a. As if each named insured were the only Named Insured; and b. Separately to each insured against whom claim is made or ‘suit’ is brought.”
Based on this clause, the Third DCA concluded:
Essentially, the exclusion’s use of the term ‘any insured’ when read in conjunction with the severability clause creates a class of insureds who are excluded from coverage, i.e. employers of the injured claimant. Accordingly, as to other insureds who are not in the class of excludable insureds, but against whom a claim could be asserted, i.e. non-employers of the injured claimant, coverage is not precluded.
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Applying those principles here, coverage for Taylor was not precluded with respect to Villa Vizcaya or the County because neither was her employer. While the Absolute Employer’s Liability Provision prevented Taylor from making a claim against Hello Florida, the Separation of Insureds provision permitted her to pursue her claims against additional insureds Villa Vizcaya and the County.
Separation of Insured clauses are vitally important in many different situations. Obviously, one example is set forth in this case. Another, is when one insured has intentionally caused damage to an insured property and the other insured did not.