Insurance Update

June 20, 2020 | Insurance Coverage

“Intent” is the main theme of our June Insurance Update.

Policyholders will often point to allegations of negligence in attempting to secure coverage for claims involving the policyholder’s intentional conduct.  But it’s the facts, not the labels, that determine coverage.  And we discuss several decisions in our update emphasizing this point.  Whether in the context of a bar fight, a construction defect, a breach of contract, or a fraudulent inducement, the policyholder’s intent was the courts’ main focus when assessing coverage for these claims.

Not all intentional injury exclusions are the same.  And not all courts interpret them the same way.  In the context of a tortious interference claim, a Fourth Circuit panel considers what “harm” means, and if it is limited to only “physical harm.”

Moving along, we also provide an update on the “spider infestation” case that we reported on last year, and alert our readers to a Washington Supreme Court decision that found the insurer acted in bad faith when refusing to defend based on its interpretation of unsettled law.

But we open this month with a straightforward case on policy interpretation.  Rules of construction presume that each word in a policy has been included for a reason and require that those words be given effect whenever practicable.  Application of a single word can have a major impact on coverage.  And that was the situation a Massachusetts appellate court faced when it compared “any insured” to “the insured.”

We hope that you enjoy the update and find these cases informative.

Rob Tugander and Greg Mann

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