Premises Liability – Assault & Battery Exclusion

When reviewing your commercial general liability coverage with respect to premises liability concerns, check for the assault and battery exclusion, and whether this is a concern with respect to your business operations.  “Assault and battery” generally means violence toward a victim, whether by staff, invitees or other third persons.  Property owners and operators are frequently sued by the victim when violence occurs on or near their premises, often under a theory of negligent provision of security, negligent hiring, and/or negligent supervision. 

When a commercial general liability insurance policy contains an assault and battery exclusion, the policy may not cover a claim for injuries arising out of an assault and battery, even if the insured is found liable under a legal theory of negligence.  Pennsylvania courts (and courts in multiple states) have held that a claim which arises from a physical attack is not covered under a policy with an assault and battery exclusion, even where negligence is alleged in the complaint, because the claims arise from the physical injuries caused by the assault and battery.  Victoria Ins. Co., v. Mincin Insulation Services, Inc., 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 84082 (W.D. Pa. September 15, 2009).

This policy exclusion is found most commonly in liquor liability, or ‘dram shop’ policies, or in high risk, surplus line insurance policies.  It may be possible to obtain coverage, or an endorsement modifying the exclusion, if the insured requires coverage over such incidents. 

MB&M can assist in reviewing your policy coverage, and analyzing and explaining your premises liability risks and concerns.