Court Upholds "Insured Location" limitation to liability coverage.

Nationwide Mut. Fire Ins. Co. v. Jones, 695 F.Supp.2d 978

D.Ariz.

Type of Case: Insurance Coverage

Practice Area(s): Insurance Coverage

Lawyer(s): Kurt M. Zitzer Robert A. Justman

Office(s): Chicago

Date: Feb 22 2010

The United States District Court for the District of Arizona held that an ATV accident resulting from the use of the insured’s ATV on her cul-de-sac did not occur on an “insured location” under homeowners liability coverage. Whether the area directly adjacent to an insured’s home qualifies as an “insured location” for an ATV accident has generated divergent case law. The issue was recently certified by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Arrowood Indem. Co. v. King, 605 F.3d 62 (2nd Cir. 2010).

Two women were in a catastrophic accident while riding the insured’s ATV. The ATV rolled-over on the cul-de-sac directly in front of the insured’s home. The insured testified that the cul-de-sac was “my cul-de-sac.” The two women were not wearing helmets, and one was knocked into a coma. She had over $500,000 in medical bills. The homeowners policy provided liability coverage for the ATV while on an “insured location.” “Insured location” was defined by the standard policy as the residence premises or “premises used in connection with the residence premises.”

Meagher & Geer persuaded the Arizona federal court that the homeowners policy was structured to provide liability coverage for the ATV only while on the insured’s private property or premises integral to the private property, such as a deeded right-of-way or easement. The homeowners policy never afforded liability coverage for an ATV when on a public street. Although out-of-state case law suggested the regular use of a field, trail, or private street near the insured’s home could allow for coverage, the homeowners policy never covered an ATV accident on a public street. The homeowners policy could not be squared with a motor vehicle accident on a public street.

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