Insurer Has No Obligation to Cover Arbitration Award in Construction Defect Case

Tred R. Eyerly | Insurance Law Hawaii

    The court determined there was no coverage for an adverse arbitration decision suffered by the insured in a construction defect case. Am. Fire and Cas. Co. v. Unforgettable Coatings, Inc., 2023 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 64846 (D. Nev. April 13, 2023). 

    Unforgettable contracted with Muirfield Village Homeowner’s Association for painting and related services. Following completion of the project, Muirfield alleged that Unforgettable’s work was defective and filed suit. The parties agreed to arbitration. The arbitrator found that Unforgettable breached the contract and its implied warranty. Damages were awarded to Muirfield. 

    American Fire and Casualty Company (AFCC) was Unforgettable’s insurer and defended Unforgettable at the arbitration. AFCC sued for a declaration that it had no obligation to indemnify Unforgettable for the damages awarded. Unforgettable and Murifiled counterclaimed, alleging that AFCC breached the policy by not covering the award, as well as a variety of extracontractual claims related to the investigation process. AFCC moved for judgment on the pleadings. The motion was granted with leave to amend.

    After the counterclaims were amended, AFCC again moved for judgment on the pleadings. The court first found that Unforgettable had assigned all of its rights under the policy to Muirfield. Therefore, Unforgettable had no standing and its counterclaims were dismissed. 

    In the second amended counterclaims, Muirfield provided no allegations that persuaded the court to reconsider its initial analysis. “Occurrence” did not apply to faulty workmanship. Muirfield argued that the word “accident” within the definition of “occurrence” was ambiguous. The court rejected the argument. Regardless of what “accident” meant precisely, the court had already excluded the relevant conduct from the definition. The damage was the poor workmanship itself. 

    The argument for breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing also failed. The denial of coverage was proper and there was nothing to trigger coverage.

    Muirfield’s request for leave to amend was also rejected. Muirfield already had two opportinities to cure its pleading and failed to do so. 

When one of your cases is in need of a construction expert, estimates, insurance appraisal or umpire services in defect or insurance disputes – please call Advise & Consult, Inc. at 888.684.8305, or email

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