Most construction contracts require that the subcontractor list the general contractor as an additional insured. But, from a practical and coverage standpoint, what does that mean?

When a general contractor is listed as an additional insured, the subcontractors insurance carrier owes the general contractor a duty of indemnity and defense for any vicarious liability the general contractor may incur as a result of the subcontractor’s negligence. The subcontractor’s carrier may also have to provide coverage for the general contractor’s own negligence.

An additional insured endorsement generally provides:

Who is an insured is amended to include as an additional insured the person[s] or organization[s] shown in the schedule, but only with respect to liability for “bodily injury”, “property damage” or “personal and advertising injury” caused, in whole or in part, by:

1. Your acts or omissions; or

2. The acts or omissions of those acting on your behalf.

The phrase “caused in whole or in part” has been interpreted to require some fault or omission on the part of the subcontractor in order to trigger coverage. So, if the subcontractor is only a little bit at fault, coverage may be triggered.

Ultimately, general contractors should review their subcontractors’ insurance policies to confirm that the general contractor is listed as an additional insured and determine the full breadth of coverage for the general contractor.