What is an Additional Insured Endorsement

It seems an almost normal course of business these days to be asked to name a contractor, vendor, landlord, or other business associate as an additional insured on your liability insurance policies.  This article will delve into the details of the additional insured endorsement, how you do this, and the relative merits and risks of giving this status to your business associates.

Who is an Insured Under Your Policy?

Your basic liability policies define quite specifically who is insured under the policy.  The definitions are typically broader than you think but vary from policy to policy.  Typically, liability policies include coverage for the entity that is shown on the declarations page as the named insured.  If you operate under several different entities, all of them should probably be listed as a named insured.  For example, if you operate your business as a corporation where you are the sole or majority shareholder out of a building that is owned by a Limited Liability Company (LLC) in which you are the sole or majority owner, both the corporation and the LLC should be named in the declarations page as the insured.  You, as an individual are also covered by the definitions in the policy as respects your ownership of the entity.  It is also typical that corporate officers, and employees are also insureds under the policy in respects to their duties as such.  In an automobile liability policy, any driver of an insured vehicle is also an insured if they are driving the vehicle with permission.

It is customary but not necessary to have trade or fictitious names – sometimes called a doing business as name, listed as an insured on the declarations pages as well.  This would generally be descriptive in nature and not affect your coverage as long as the business name is fully owned by an entity that is named on the policy.  Getting the names on the declaration page correct, is the first step in making sure that your liability coverage is providing you what you need.

What is an “Additional Insured”?

Adding someone as an additional insured on your policy is the process of you sharing your coverage with that additional insured.  By sharing your coverage, you are diluting your limits of liability.  In other words, if you share your coverage, there is less coverage left for you.  The endorsement typically adds the additional insured to the list of entities who are insured under the policy.  Keep in mind that liability insurance is third-party coverage.  This means that the insureds are covered for allegations that through their negligence, they have caused injury (bodily injury or property damage) to another person or entity.

Why are You Being Asked to Name a Business Associate as an Additional Insured on Your Policy?

This is a technique of risk transfer where one party is obtaining protection through another for liabilities that arise, presumably through their business interactions.  It is customary for a landlord to require as a provision in a lease a tenant to indemnify, defend, and hold them harmless for liabilities that arise from the tenant’s occupancy of the premises.  In this case, the terminology, “indemnify and defend” could be stated as “name as additional insured on your insurance policy.”  Some leases contain both of those requirements.  It is also routine for a General Contractor to require additional insured status on the liability insurance policies of a Sub-Contractor.  I am not saying that these requirements are good or bad; they are just normal practices within those industries.  

How do You Add Additional Insured Coverage To Your Policies?

There are many different endorsements and techniques that do this, and we try and find the method that makes the most sense for each specific situation.  We can break the types of endorsements for adding additional insured status into two categories.

Blanket Endorsement

A blanket additional insured endorsement is quite common these days.  Under this method, your policy contains language that grants additional insured status to any party requiring such status under a written agreement.  The premium charge for this coverage is likely built into your policy and you do not pay for each party that is granted such status.  It is important to remember that there must be a written agreement between the two parties for the additional insured status to be in effect.  While this is a common method, there are problems with this technique and often insurance requirements in specific contracts and agreements cannot be satisfied with a blanket endorsement.

Specific Endorsement

This is an endorsement added to your liability policy that specifically names the additional insured and outlines the scope of coverage that applies to the additional insured.  Insurance companies may charge a premium for these endorsements each time they are added to your policy. There are many diverse types of additional insured endorsements with varying levels and degrees of coverage for the additional insured.  

Other Related Requirements

When you are required to name a business associate as an additional insured, it is common that you may also be asked for other coverages such as:

  • Primary and Non-Contributory: This is an endorsement that makes your policy primary over insurance that the additional insured may purchase for themselves.  
  • Waiver of Subrogation: This is an endorsement that prevents your insurance company from seeking recourse from the additional insured even if they are responsible for the loss.  
  • Cancellation Notice: Your policy provides legal requirements of notification if the insurance company is going to cancel or non-renew your policy.  This endorsement makes the insurance company for notifying the additional insured about a pending cancellation as well.  Keep in mind when you add this endorsement to your policy, your business associate will get a notification from the insurance company if your payment is late which leads to a pending notification of cancellation of coverage for non-payment.

We spend a significant amount of time each week reviewing the insurance provisions of agreements for our clients and advising them what is required to meet those requirements.  It works best if we review the agreement before you have completed negotiations on the project.  Our experience tells us that some of these agreements are not negotiable – but many are.  Helping you assess the risk you agree to assume through business agreements seems logical to be part of the service a competent insurance advisor provides.  We are happy to be that advisor for you.