Court Split Over Contra Proferentem Doctrine Widens

Minnesota appeals court says Contra proferentem rule construing ambiguities against drafter doesn’t apply to disputes between two insurers.

January 06, 2014

Law360, New York (January 06, 2014, 4:38 PM ET) ‐‐ Contra proferentem is a rule of insurance contract interpretation under which ambiguities in an insurance contract are construed against the drafter. Because insurers typically draft insurance contracts, this rule of contract interpretation usually works in favor of the insured. But what if the dispute over insurance contract language is between two insurers rather than between the insurer and its insured? In Economy Premier Assurance Co. v. Western National Insurance Co., No. A13‐0621, 2013 Minn. App. (Minn. Ct. App. Nov. 25, 2013), the Minnesota Court of Appeals addressed that question. There, the court ruled that the contra proferentem doctrine does not apply to resolve ambiguities in insurance contract language in coverage disputes between two insurers.

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Scott G. Johnson

Partner

Chair, Minneapolis Insurance Group

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