Homeowners Derrick and Carol Scott have a homeowner’sinsurance policy with Allstate Insurance Co. On April 16, 2004, a fire severelydamaged their home and its contents.
Derrick Scott stated that on the day of the fire he noticeda “wet spot” on the floor of his garage. He decided to investigatethe nature of this “wet spot” by lighting it with a match.
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When he dropped the match to the floor, the liquid ignitedand flames shot into the air. Derrick then tried, unsuccessfully, to preventthe spread of the fire.
After evaluating the evidence regarding the fire, Allstatedenied the fire damage claim. Allstate argues it denied the coverage becausethe fire damage to the home was not “accidental” as required by thehomeowner’s insurance policy, but Derrick intentionally dropped a match intothe unknown liquid, thus causing the loss.
Allstate pointed to several clauses in its insurance policythat exclude coverage for intentional acts of the insured. But the Scottsargued this was a “sudden and accidental” direct loss, which iscovered by the policy.
If you were the judge, would you require Allstate to pay forthe fire damage caused by Derrick’s dropping a match into a “wetspot” in the garage?
The judge said no!
“The term ‘accidental’ as used in an insurance policymeans ‘an unexpected happening without intention or design.’ Its inclusionmakes it clear that the insured is not protected against loss resulting fromhis own intentional and malicious acts,” the judge explained.
“Derrick Scott, the insured plaintiff, deliberatelyapplied a lit match to an unidentified liquid, a liquid he admits he knew mayhave been a flammable substance such as gasoline or antifreeze,” hecontinued.
“The insurance contract excludes intentional acts bythe insured if the loss that occurs may be reasonably expected to result fromsuch acts. Therefore, not only is the plaintiffs’ loss not accidental, meaningunexpected or unforeseen, but it is also expressly excluded under the insurancecontract because it was reasonably expected to occur,” the judgeemphasized.
Therefore, Allstate has no fire loss liability to Derrickand Carol Scott under their homeowner’s insurance policy, the judge ruled.
Based on the 2006 U.S. District Court decision in Scottv. Allstate Indemnity Co., 417 Fed.Supp.2d 929.
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Copyright 2006 Inman News