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Horizontal vs. Vertical Exhaustion of Insurance: Priority of Coverage and Settlement for Below Policy Limits

Recording of a 90-minute CLE video webinar with Q&A

This program is included with the Strafford CLE Pass. Click for more information.
This program is included with the Strafford All-Access Pass. Click for more information.

Conducted on Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Recorded event now available

or call 1-800-926-7926

This CLE course will provide insurance counsel with a review of essential issues in horizontal and vertical exhaustion, the interrelationship between the primary carrier's obligation and those of the excess insurer, and best practices to resolve coverage priority disputes.


Insurance counsel face challenging issues in accessing excess coverage when multiple policies, issued to a single insured, provide coverage to a single claim.

Sometimes issues arise when a loss extends over several years and several sequential policies. In this case, questions may arise as to whether the primary coverage exhausts horizontally or vertically: in other words, whether the insured has to exhaust one primary policy or all primary policies before excess coverage becomes available.

Sometimes issues arise when the insured settles a claim with its primary carrier for less than the policy limits. Tapping the excess policies in these situations requires close attention to the policies' language and the rapidly evolving law in this area.

Resolving these insurance coverage disputes hinges on understanding the policy language, the contracts between the parties, and the relationship between the primary and excess insurers who may be called on to respond to the loss.

Listen as our authoritative panel of insurance attorneys discusses vertical and horizontal insurance coverage principles, triggering excess policies, and resolving issues with the excess carrier when the primary carrier settles for less than the policy limits



  1. Overview of horizontal and vertical insurance coverage in the additional insured context
  2. The priority of coverage between the primary carrier and excess insurer and the triggering of excess insurance
  3. The dichotomy of views among states and recent case law
  4. Strategies for resolving issues when the primary carrier settles for less than the policy limits


The panel will review these and other vital issues:

  • When additional insured coverage involves both primary and excess policies, what are the best strategies for resolving vertical vs. horizontal exhaustion?
  • How can counsel resolve issues that arise between the insured, the excess carrier, and primary carrier when the primary carrier settles for less than the policy limits?
  • How do you identify potentially problematic policy language when triggering excess insurance for continuous injury claims?


Hermanson, Eric
Eric B. Hermanson

White and Williams

Mr. Hermanson represents primary and excess insurance carriers in high-exposure litigation on contested coverage...  |  Read More

Perry, Anna
Anna M. Perry

Saxe Doernberger & Vita

Ms. Perry has a wealth of experience in contract reviews, insurance program evaluations, and coverage analysis.

 |  Read More
Seaman, Scott M.
Scott M. Seaman

Co-Chair Global Insurance Services Practice Group
Hinshaw & Culbertson

Mr. Seaman is a commercial litigator and trial lawyer with more than 35 years of experience. Scott is widely regarded...  |  Read More

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