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Outcomes Not Consistent State-to-State

Summary: This discussion examines issues regarding the insurability of punitive damages awards under liability policies. Dependent upon the jurisdiction, there are three positions which have been adopted regarding whether or not an insured can collect under a general liability policy for punitive damages awarded against him or her. In some states, punitive damages are flatly not insurable as a matter of public policy. In others, the courts have held that the language of the insurance contract controls, and, absent an exclusion of punitive damages awards, they are insurable. Yet another position is that punitive awards vicariously assessed against an insured are insurable. The determination of whether or not punitive damage awards are recoverable under liability policies is dependent upon the specific jurisdiction.

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