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Insurer in Full: How the $1bn Surfside settlement breaks down

The approval of the $1bn+ settlement for the victims of the Champlain Towers South collapse in Surfside, Florida last year marks a complicated split between over two dozen parties. The Insurer analyses how it will be split and what details are known about their insurers...

On Thursday a Florida circuit court judge approved the $1.02bn settlement for the victims of the disaster.

The settlement was approved the day before the one-year anniversary of the collapse of the 12-storey Champlain Towers South condominium that killed 98 people.

The settlement was agreed by over two dozen defendants and will be paid by their insurers.

Court filings in the class action case reveal the breakdown of the settlement among defendants. 

TAB-Surfside-Settlements

Securitas takes a $517.5mn share

Securitas Security Services has the largest share of the settlement, at $517.5mn, according to court filings.

This publication in May had revealed the structure and insurers on the Swedish security firm’s $550mn general excess liability cover, with AIG, Zurich, Chubb, Liberty Mutual and Axa XL the largest players on the program. 

Securitas-excess-GLI-placement-v2

All of the companies The Insurer had revealed were on Securitas’ excess placement were involved in the settlement except Hiscox and Talbot.

However, the $32.5mn layer provided by Hiscox and Talbot was for terrorism only so would not have been triggered by the condo collapse.

The defendant on the hook for the second-largest settlement amount was general contracting and construction firm John Moriarty & Associates of Florida (JMAF), with $157mn. JMAF constructed the 87 Park property that was next to Champlain Towers South.

The filing lists JMAF’s insurers, with $25mn of limit provided by each of Zurich subsidiary American Guarantee and Liability Insurance, Starr Indemnity & Liability Company, Berkley National Insurance Company and Liberty Insurance Underwriters. 

TAB-JMAF-Insurance-Policies

In addition, $15mn of limit was provided by Houston Casualty Company, $10mn of limit was provided by each of XL Specialty Insurance Company, Sompo International subsidiary Endurance American Insurance Company and Fairfax subsidiaries The North River Insurance Company and Allied World Assurance Company, while $2mn was provided by Arch Insurance.

JMAF was also covered by a separate contractor controlled insurance program (CCIP), which provided commercial general liability insurance and excess liability insurance for the construction of 87 Park, which is located at 8701 Collins Avenue. 

The settlement includes an $84mn payout from the CCIP program, under which Starr Surplus Lines Insurance, Great American Insurance and Endurance Assurance each provided $25mn of limit and WR Berkley subsidiary Gemini Insurance Company provided $10mn. 

TAB-CCIP-Insurance-Policies

The next-highest settlement amounts were $31mn from Becker & Poliakoff’s insurers, $29mn from the 87 Park Association’s insurers, $28mn from the 8701 Collins Development’s insurers and $25mn from Western Waterproofing’s insurers.

Of these, the filing only provided details of the insurers for the $28mn settlement from 8701 Collins Development, which created and developed 87 Park. 

AIG’s National Union provided 8701 Collins Development with two policies with a total $20mn of limit, with Nationwide’s Scottsdale Insurance writing two policies with a total of $4mn of limit, Penn America Insurance Company writing two policies with a total of $2mn of limit and AIG subsidiary Commerce & Industry Insurance Company and Berkshire Hathaway’s General Star Indemnity each providing $1mn of limit.

TAB-8701-Collins-Insurance-Policies

The filing did not provide any details of the insurers for Becker & Poliakoff, a law firm that represented the Champlain Towers South condo association. However, Allied World had in February this year sued Becker & Poliakoff to seek a declaration whether its $10mn policy should apply. 

Other parties settling for over $10mn were Stantec Architecture ($16.5mn), Bizzi & Partners Development ($16mn), Morabito Consultants ($16mn) and Concrete Protection and Restoration ($11mn). 

Morabito Consultants, an engineering firm consulting for the Champlain Towers South condo association, had previously been in litigation with its insurers, and in February this year announced it had reached a settlement with them.

The firm was retained in 2018 by the Champlain Towers South condo association to prepare the 40-year recertification of the building, as required by Miami-Dade County and the Town of Surfside. 

In August last year CNA had sued Morabito Consultants in the District of Maryland, seeking a declaration that it has no obligation under policies issued by two subsidiaries to defend and/or indemnify the structural engineering firm in connection with underlying lawsuits.

Following last week’s approval of the $1.02bn settlement, Reuters reported Rachel Furst, the plaintiffs’ co-lead attorney, had stated it does not include the proceeds of the land sale or the insurance held by the condo association.

The Miami Herald had previously reported that parties associated with the Champlain Towers South condo association will reportedly be paying out around $100mn, suggesting the total payout was at least $1.12bn. 

This includes the $48mn in insurance limits under the Champlain Towers South condo association’s policies. 

Insurers for Champlain Towers South Condominium Association

The condo association’s insurers were Allianz’s Fireman’s Fund, James River Insurance, Philadelphia Indemnity Insurance, QBE and Great American.

In addition, St John’s Insurance and Universal Property & Casualty had insured units within the building. According to the filing St John’s insured five units and Universal had insured 42. 

Universal in July last year filed to intervene in proposed class-action litigation. The filing stated that Universal insured 42 units at Champlain Towers South, and that the insurer had tendered policy limits owed to 31 insured unit owners for a total of $4mn.

 

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