May 13, 2013 Articles

"Related Acts" Language in Professional Liability Policies

Insurers and policyholders should determine at the earliest stage whether the relevant jurisdiction has ruled that the phrase "related to" is ambiguous.

By Kenneth L. Baker and Carl J. Pernicone – May 13, 2013

Courts have interpreted “related acts” language in professional-liability and directors-and-officers insurance policies in various ways. Typically, “related acts” issues arise in the context of disputes about available policy limits—whether multiple claims are subject to the “each claim” or “aggregate” limit, or whether multiple claims or suits fall within the policy period, triggering a duty to defend the insured under the policy.

State and federal courts that have interpreted “related to” language have considered the following questions:

  • Is the term ambiguous?
  • Does “related to” mean “logically and causally connected” or just “causally connected”?

We discuss some of the most frequently cited cases to illustrate how jurisdictions have analyzed these issues.

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