The United States District Court for the Southern District of New York rejected a reinsurer’s denial of a claim. The court disagreed with the reinsurer’s position than exhaustion language had not been satisfied, and found the exhaustion language ambiguous and concluded that payment was required under a “follow-the-settlement” clause in the reinsurance certificate.
Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company issued three excess liability policies to Asarco. The third policy (“Policy 3”) provided “coverage of $20 million for losses in excess of $75 million in excess of a $3 million self-insured retention for the period March 15, 1983 to March 15, 1984.”
General Accident Insurance Company reinsured Policy 3 under a facultative reinsurance contract in which it assumed “15% . . . of the risk assumed in Policy 3.” OneBeacon Insurance Company subsequently became the successor-in-interest to General Accident.
Asarco filed an action against Fireman’s seeking coverage for asbestos exposure. Fireman’s estimated its exposure at $50.3 million. It settled with Asarco for $35 million and allocated a portion of that settlement to Policy 3 in accordance with its exposure analysis.
Fireman’s then billed OneBeacon pursuant to the reinsurance agreement. OneBeacon denied Fireman’s claim, asserting that the policies underlying Policy 3 had not been exhausted.
The court granted summary judgment to Fireman’s. In short, the court explained that the reinsurance certificate contained a “follow-the-settlements” provision that required OneBeacon to make payments in accordance with Fireman’s good-faith settlement, which was reasonable. That clause was not trumped by any exhaustion clause in Fireman’s policies because the term exhaustion was ambiguous within the meaning of Fireman’s policies.
Fireman’s Fund Ins. Co. v. OneBeacon Ins. Co., No. 14-civ-4718 (PGG) (Oct. 19, 2020).