Insurance policies commonly afford coverage to a resident or member of the named insured’s household. However, whether the resident or member “resides” at the insured property at the time of the loss can be a question of his or her intent. Various courts have held that children living away from home for the purposes of attending school may still be a “resident” of the insured’s household.1
A Wisconsin state appellate court recently discussed a similar issue of whether a son who lived away from home was covered under his parents’ homeowners’ policy.2 In this case, while on a ski trip in December 2011, the son injured another woman by running into her on his snowboard. At this time, he was a full-time student at the University of Wisconsin and had not lived with his parents since graduation from high school in 2008. In August 2011, he was discharged from the Air Force and moved into his own apartment. His parents’ homeowners policy defined “insured” as:
[A] student enrolled full time, as defined by the school, who was a resident of your household before moving out to attend school, provided the student is under the age . . . 24 and your relative.
Here, the Court focused on the policy language “moving out to attend school.” Because the son testified in his deposition that when he moved out of his parents’ home he did not have an intention to go into the Air Force and then later attend college, the Court affirmed the circuit court’s ruling that he did not meet the requirement for an insured under his parents’ homeowners policy because he did not move out of his parents’ home to attend school.
1 3 Couch on Ins. § 40:9, footnote 6: Crossett v. St. Louis Fire & Marine Ins. Co., 289 Ala. 598, 604, 269 So. 2d 869, 874 (1972) (finding that the term “residents” of the household was ambiguous and that the named insured’s son who was living at and attending a university 116 miles from the insured’s home was covered under the policy as he maintained a room in the family home where he kept belongings, came home almost every weekend, was supported financially by his parents, listed their address on his driver’s license, registered for the draft near that residence, and was home for all holidays); Montgomery v. Hawkeye Sec. Ins. Co., 52 Mich. App. 457, 459, 217 N.W.2d 449, 450 (1974) (holding that a trial court did not err in finding that a son living at and attending a university was a resident of his father’s household where his parents were partially financing his education and paid for his apartment, and the son had always lived with his parents except for time spent in military service and at the university and rejecting the insurer’s proposition that a “resident” of a household must necessarily be actually occupying or dwelling in the premises named in the policy).
2 Schaefer v. Taylor, No. 2013AP2419 (Wisc. Ct.App. Nov. 6, 2014).