Insurance policies represent an interesting subset of contract law that relies on common law and specific statutes, namely those contained in Title 56 of the Tennessee Code Annotated. Lawsuits asking a question concerning the extent of insurance coverage under a specific policy is a question of law requiring the interpretation of contractual language.1 In fact, Tennessee courts have long agreed that “insurance policies are, at their core, contracts.”2
Continue Reading Tennessee Court Interpretation of Insurance Contracts

Abbott and Costello’s performance of the now classic “Who’s on first?” baseball sketch remains comedy gold.1 In addition to being outrageously hilarious, this comedy sketch highlights the significance of language and how specific words can be misconstrued. The ambiguity of words becomes more significant than baseball positions when applying the legal effect of those words, especially as applied to a property insurance policy, which may mean hundreds of thousands of dollars or even millions.
Continue Reading Who’s On First? Discerning Ambiguity in Insurance Policy Language

In keeping my promise made in my last blog post, When Words Collide: Policy Interpretation Doctrines and the 10 Commandments. Understand your Insurance Policy Better—RTFP!, I will continue to write new installments on the rest of Bill Wilson’s 10 Commandments for Policy Interpretation. This discussion is on another important insurance doctrine that should be known by anyone working within the insurance industry: contracts of adhesion.
Continue Reading When Words Collide: Insurance Policies as Contracts of Adhesion

Ejusdem generis is a Latin phrase that roughly translates as “of the same kind, class, or nature.” Its use is similar to that of noscitur a sociis,1 in that it usually involves a list of terms, but in this case one that ends in a catch-all category. Whether a particular object or event not specifically referenced in that list is subject to the exclusionary function of the listing depends on its similarity to the other items in the listing.2
Continue Reading What Is Ejusdem Generis and How Can it Help Clarify Ambiguous Policy Language If My Insurer Denies Coverage?

Generally, insurance policies in Texas are construed according to the same rules that govern the construction of contracts.1 Insurance policies must be interpreted by reading all sections of the document together.2 This stems from the primary concern of the courts—to enforce the parties’ expressed intent.3 “No one phrase, sentence, or section [of the policy] should be isolated from its setting and considered apart from the other provisions.”4 If part of a policy was read separately from the rest of the document, it would defeat the parties’ intent by excluding the other provisions.
Continue Reading Ambiguity in Texas Insurance Policies

One of my favorite aspects of being a first-party property insurance attorney is being able to pick apart an insurance policy and take a position on the way a certain provision should be interpreted.
Continue Reading Interpreting the Plain and Ordinary Meaning of an Ordinance or Law Insurance Provision; What Does it Mean to “Incur” and When Does this Happen?

A common theme of the Property Insurance Coverage Blog is to teach policyholders about the ins and outs of their own insurance contract. Before setting up a new iPhone, a customer is required to read through the terms and conditions before accepting them. How often does someone actually read through every word and clause of their terms and conditions? I get it. Long agreements such as terms and conditions and insurance policies are not exactly “fun” to read. But they are important. As a matter of fact, every single word is important.
Continue Reading When Words Collide: Policy Interpretation Doctrines and the 10 Commandments. Understand your Insurance Policy Better—RTFP!