A recent case from the Texas Eleventh Court of Appeals, Spurlock v. Beacon Lloyd’s Insurance Company,1 once again stresses the importance for policyholders to regularly and carefully review their policy to make sure they have the coverages they need and believe are in place.

Background Facts

Kelly Spurlock (“the Executor”), brought suit as legal representative for the Estate of J.O. Spurlock against Beacon Lloyds Insurance Company (“the Carrier”) to recover insurance proceeds under a homeowner’s policy for a personal property loss involving alleged theft of items from a residence.

J.O. Spurlock was the only named insured in the policy. After J.O. Spurlock passed away in January 2009, the Executor noticed personal property items allegedly stolen in April 2009. The Executor filed a claim with the Carrier in which the Executor sought insurance coverage for the stolen property. The Carrier denied the Executor’s claim.

The Executor filed suit against the Carrier for failing to pay the claim. The trial court dismissed all the Executor’s claims, granting summary judgment in the Carrier’s favor.

The Opinion

The court detailed the long standing insurance policy construction rules regarding terms defined in the policy, potential ambiguity, and resolving ambiguity in the policyholder’s favor.

The court then noted a policy condition stating “upon the death of the named insured, (the Carrier) would insure the legal representative of the deceased.” However, the policy went on to state “if the legal representative was not an insured under the policy at the time of the named insured’s death, the policy extends to the legal representative only with respect to the premises of the original named insured.” Utilizing the traditional construction rules referenced above, the court held for the Carrier and denied coverage for the Executor’s personal property claim on J.O. Spurlock’s behalf.

What Does This Mean For Me?

So many of my “What Does This Mean For Me?” sections begin or end with the advice to “read your policy,” and this entry also follows that pattern. If your “status” changes in any way – married, separated, divorced, named insured passes away, move in or move out of insured premises – read the insurance policies to make sure you have the coverage you need and think you have in place. In most instances, policyholders will also benefit by having a policyholder professional review the policy to advise them.

Motivational Poster Of The Day

1 Kelly Spurlock, as legal representative for the estate of J.O. Spurlock, v. Beacon Lloyds Ins. Co. and Grantham-Adkins Ins. Agency, No. 11-12-00357 (Tex.App. Jan. 29, 2015).