May 27, 2020

May 26, 2020

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CGL (Commercial General Liability) Policy Terms Unambiguously Limited Exposure To The Occurrence Limit Rather Than Aggregate Limit

Bituminous issued two CGL policies covering various companies involved with an oil and gas well which exploded causing injuries and deaths to oil well workers. One policy had an occurrence limit of $1 million and a general aggregate of $2 million while the other policy had a $500,000 occurrence limit and $1 million general aggregate limit. Bituminous filed an interpleader action seeking an order that it deposit the occurrence limit for each policy so that the injured workers could establish among themselves the respective rights to the funds. The trial court held the policy was ambiguous and ordered Bituminous to deposit the aggregate limits of both policies.

The Fifth District reversed. If the words in a policy are susceptible to more than one reasonable interpretation, the court must consider them ambiguous and construe them strict- ly against the insurer who drafted the policy. However, a contract is not rendered ambiguous merely because the parties disagree on its meaning. The policy stated that the occurrence limit is the most the company will pay for bodily injury “arising out of any one occurrence.” As the parties agreed the injuries resulted from one occurrence, the unambiguous language of the policies limited exposure to the occurrence limit. Bituminous Casualty Corp. v. Iles, 2013 IL App (5th) 120485. 

© 2020 Heyl, Royster, Voelker & Allen, P.C


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