The Supreme Court of Virginia’s decision yesterday finding no coverage for fire damage to a building is a cautionary tale for companies acquiring other companies. Erie Ins. Exch. v. EPC MD 15, LLC, 2019 WL 238168 (Va. Jan. 17, 2019). In that case, Erie Insurance issued a property insurance policy to EPC. The policy covered EPC only and did not cover any subsidiaries of EPC. EPC then acquired the sole member interest in Cyrus Square, LLC. Following the acquisition, fire damaged a building that Cyrus Square owned.
EPC sought coverage under its property insurance policy. Because the policy did not cover Cyrus Square, EPC argued that a provision extending coverage to “newly acquired buildings” applied, contending that EPC had newly acquired Cyrus Square’s building by virtue of becoming the sole member interest in the LLC. Based on the law relative to LLCs and its interpretation of the policy, the Supreme Court of Virginia ruled against EPC. It found that although EPC had acquired Cyrus Square, it had not “newly acquired” the building and so the “newly acquired buildings” coverage extension did not apply.
The decision highlights the importance of examining your insurance coverage in connection with any type of business transaction to ensure that adequate coverage exists for all post-transaction entities and interests.