Reinsurer’s Exposure Capped At The Certificate Limits: No Obligation To Pay Defense Expenses Above The Limits


A New York federal court recently was presented with a reinsurance dispute about the amount a reinsurer was required to pay under certain reinsurance Certificates. The issue was whether the reinsurer’s obligation was capped at the stated limit, or whether the reinsurer was also liable for defense costs in excess of the limit that the direct insurer had reimbursed. The court ruled that the “Certificate Limits” stated in the “Reinsurance Accepted” section of the Certificates capped the maximum amount that the reinsurer could be obligated to pay for combined loss and expenses.

The court rejected the direct insurer’s argument that the reinsurer should have to pay additional sums for defense costs above the amount of the “Certificate Limits,” ruling that “the unambiguous language in the ‘Reinsurance Accepted’ sections of the Certificates does not differentiate between reinsurance accepted for loss versus reinsurance accepted for expenses, but simply provides a total cap on liability. If the parties intended to exclude expenses from the total liability cap, they could have made that clear in the language of the Certificates.” Under New York law, for costs to be excluded from the liability cap in a reinsurance certificate, language in the certificate must expressly state that such costs were excluded from the indemnification limit. Because nothing in the Certificates that expenses were to be excluded from the Certificate Limits, the court entered summary judgment in favor of the reinsurer. Global Reinsurance Corp. of America v. Century Indemnity Co., Case No. 1:13-CV-6577 (USDC S.D. N.Y. Aug. 15, 2014).

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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