What Coverage Exists for a Window Cleaner’s Faulty Workmanship?

Q: While trying to remove construction debris from a client’s window, a window cleaner scratches the gIass. Is it considered faulty workmanship and is there any way to cover it? 

Response 1: The window cleaner's carrier is likely to deny the claim because the window was in the insured's care, custody and control.

The building owner's coverage may cover the damage, depending on what causes of loss apply to the policy. If covered, the loss would, of course, be subject to the deductible.

Response 2: Some carriers have care, custody and control endorsements with limited coverage but use them judiciously. ISO has no standard coverage form for this.

Response 3: If you're asking about the ISO commercial general liability coverage form, the obvious exclusion is a subsection in the Damage to Property exclusions which excludes property damage to a particular part of real property upon which the named insured or any contractors or subcontractors on behalf of the named insured are performing operations. 

There are some insurers that offer a proprietary care, custody or control endorsement that may remove the exclusion up to a specific limit of insurance. Generally, coverage for these losses is a long shot under an unendorsed ISO CGL.

Could there be situations where coverage might apply? Sure—imagine that the glass is damaged by pollution and is still damaged after the cleaner removes the pollution. In this situation, the work was done correctly and the damage arose from an independent force, not from the cleaner's activities. If the building owner sues for the damage, there's a good argument that defense should be provided. 

Response 4: Does the policy have a care, custody and control endorsement? If not, it’s not covered. If it’s possible, determine where the construction debris emanated. I think that will be unlikely based on the magnitude of the project.

Response 5: Some carriers will write voluntary property damage coverage with a small sublimit, generally around $5,000. 

This question was originally submitted by an agent through the VU’s Ask an Expert Service, with responses curated from multiple VU faculty members. Answers to other coverage questions are available on the VU website. If you need help accessing the website, request login information.