Asbestos: “All Sums” Interpreted Broadly

In Wisconsin, a policyholder can access policies with a defense-in-addition obligation at the same time as indemnity-only policies, effectively prolonging the duration of the defense-only coverage.

In a case concerning 200,000 asbestos suits, a Wisconsin Court of Appeals held that “all sums” language in six excess general liability insurance policies allowed the policyholder to access all six simultaneously.  Some of the policies contained a cost-in-addition feature for defense and others were indemnity-only.  By so doing, the policyholder was able to prolong the exhaustion of the cost-in-addition policies because they would take that much longer to exhaust given that they were sharing the indemnity with the indemnity-only policies.  The court reasoned that “all sums” is the equivalent of ”joint and several.” Cleaver Brooks, Inc. v. AIU Ins. Co., No. 2013AP203, Wisconsin Court of Appeals.

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