Intentional Acts Exclusion

In a matter of first impression, the Supreme Court of Kentucky recently held that a mental incapacity defense was available to insureds to defeat the intentional-loss exclusion in an insurance policy.1 In that case, the insureds’ teenage son, who was in a disturbed mental state, started a house fire in a suicide attempt. After the fire damaged the house to the point it became uninhabitable for an extended period of time, the insureds made a claim for property damage under their homeowners policy. The insurer denied the claim relying upon the intentional-loss exclusion within the policy.
Continue Reading Is Mental Incapacity Defense Available to Insureds to Defeat the Intentional-Loss Exclusion?

Earlier this year, I wrote how, under Michigan law, insurers were required to provide coverage to innocent co-insureds notwithstanding any insurance policy exclusion for intentional acts by an insured.1 This was the case as Michigan law prohibits the exclusion as void against public policy. The Supreme Court of Arkansas, however, very recently found directly to the contrary with respect to innocent co-insureds.
Continue Reading Innocent Co-Insureds: Court Rules Intentional-Acts Exclusion Bars Coverage for House Fire Caused By Spouse

Ordinarily, multiple family members residing in the same household qualify as insured persons under a homeowner’s insurance policy. What happens when one of the insureds intentionally causes a loss, but the others do not? Are the innocent co-insureds precluded from recovering under the policy?
Continue Reading Am I Barred From Recovering Under An Insurance Policy Because of Another Co-Insured’s Intentional Acts?

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeal’s opinion this week in Streit v. Metropolitan Casualty Insurance Company,1 is a major victory for policyholders in Illinois. There, the Seventh Circuit affirmed the lower court judgment entered in favor of my clients, Wesley and Barbara Streit, arising out of Metropolitan’s failure to cover a fire loss to their residence in Illinois. The Seventh Circuit’s ruling establishes that an insurance policy exclusion which precludes innocent co-insureds from recovering violates the minimum level of protection afforded by the Illinois Standard Fire Policy.
Continue Reading Standard Fire Insurance Policies Still Provide Basic Protections—A Major Victory for Policyholders and Merlin Law Group

Part three of my series covering the Intentional Acts Exclusion brings us to Connecticut. To understand how Connecticut approaches this subject you will have to understand the legal term dictum. Dictum (or dicta for plural) is Latin for “remark” and is defined as a comment by a judge in a decision or ruling not required to reach the decision, but may state a related legal principle as the judge understands it. While it may be cited in legal argument, it does not have the full force of a precedent since the comment was not part of the legal basis for judgment.

Continue Reading My Spouse Burned Down the House, Am I Covered? Part III, Connecticut

The intentional acts exclusion seems straightforward enough, but is it? I was recently referred a case where an insured’s spouse allegedly burned their house down. At first glance you might scream out FRAUD! But in some of these cases, the facts aren’t as clear cut as the insurance carrier would make them out to be.

Continue Reading My Spouse Burned Down the House, Am I Covered? Part 1, New York