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Homeowners' Insurance Not the Same as Homewreckers' Insurance

Marc Mayerson of Insurance Scrawl posts about the current state of the law governing an Insurers' Duty to Defend Their Insureds Against Intentional Torts. But what I found most interesting about the post wasn't the general discussion of an insurers' duty to defend in intentional tort cases but rather one of the examples that Mayerson discussed, where an insured attempted to invoke his insurer's duty to defend.

That case is Pins v. State Farm Fire and Gas. Co., where an insured sought coverage under a personal liability insurance umbrella policy for liability and defense costs arising out of a suit filed against him for alienation of affection by his lover's husband. The court determined that by definition, alienation of affection was an intentional tort, which could not be deemed an accident, for which coverage might be available. From the decision: 

[T]he comfort and consortium injuries alleged by [the husband] were sufficient to state a claim for alienation of affections, and under South Dakota law, [the husband] could not recover on this claim unless he proved that Pins intended to cause those specific injuries. In these circumstances, any ‘loss’ to [the husband] was ‘expected or intended’ by Pins and could not be deemed an ‘accident.’ Therefore, State Farm had no contractual duty to defend.

Mayerson has the best characterization of the court's decision, however. He concludes, "Put differently, the court found that State Farm issued a homeowner’s policy, not a home-wrecker’s policy." 

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on February 13, 2007 at 05:47 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)


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