I know. Crazy. Ridiculous. Out of control. Someone who has the cojones to break into YOUR house and then sue because HE got hurt???????
But it’s happened. I’ve seen it. I’ve read about it.
And anyone who would sue me because they got hurt trying to rob my home or hurt my family….well, I’m too polite to state here what I would do to them (but it ends with the same letters as magistrate).
And for those that say, “Well make sure you don’t give ’em a chance to sue!” (i.e. shoot ’em dead)- the family could always sue, so I don’t think you’ll get away from the possibility.
Gun Owners and home insurance liability- Do You Know the Answer To The Question?
“Would you be responsible to pay their medical costs if the burglar sues you for shooting him?”
This is an actual question that one of my customers asked me via Facebook.
FYI: I’m not getting into a debate about gun control here. The law says you can have guns. So people do. And most people have guns for their personal protection. That’s what I’m talking about.
Ha- if ever there was a question to make you stop and think…….I honestly had never been asked that before, nor had ever given much consideration to it.
So I did my research and here’s what I discovered
Yep, I pulled out the policy and read (we actually do this from time to time 😉 Sections pertaining to personal liability and exclusions are outlined below. I’ve only included the most pertinent parts so as to not bore you with a bunch of gobbledy gook.
COVERAGE E – Personal Liability
If a claim is made or a suit is brought against an “insured” for damages because of “bodily injury” or “property damage”caused by an “occurrence” to which this coverage applies, we will:
1. Pay up to our limit of liability for the damages for which the “insured” is legally liable.
2. Provide a defense at our expense by counsel of our choice, even if the suit is groundless, false or fraudulent.
Hmmm, I’m not seeing anything that says it’s NOT covered. So, next comes the exclusions. Because if you EVER want to know if something is covered, go to the exclusions first. If it ain’t listed there, chances are good it is (free insurance pro tip there. YOU’RE WELCOME 😉
The ONLY exclusion that sounded like it might vaguely apply was this:
Coverage E – Personal Liability and Coverage F – Medical Payments to Others do not apply to “bodily injury” or “property damage”:
a. Which is expected or intended by the “insured”
Hmmm….I guarantee that if a burglar breaks into your home, your intent is definitely to protect your stuff and family. So you intend to make sure he never does it again. Hold that thought…..I’ll come back to it.
Coverage L — Personal Liability — “We” pay, up to the “limit” that applies, all sums for which an “insured” is legally liable because of “bodily injury” or “property damage” caused by an “occurrence” to which this coverage applies.
And the exclusion that sounds vaguely familiar to Motorists:
i. “bodily injury” or “property damage” that is:
1) expected by, directed by, or intended by an “insured”;
2) the result of a criminal act of an “insured”; or 3) the result of an intentional and malicious act by or at the direction of an “insured”.
Again with the “intended.”
And lastly, Erie:
OUR PROMISE—Bodily Injury Liability Coverage And Property Damage Liability Coverage
“We” will pay all sums up to the amount shown on the “Declarations” which “anyone we protect” becomes legally obligated to pay as damages because of “bodily injury” or
“property damage” caused by an “occurrence” during the policy period. “We” will pay for only “bodily injury” or “property damage” covered by this policy.
And the exclusion:
“We” do not cover under Bodily Injury Liability Coverage, Property Damage Liability Coverage, Personal Injury Liability Coverage and Medical Payments To Others Coverage:
1. “bodily injury,” “property damage” or “personal injury” expected or intended by “anyone we protect” even if:
a. the degree, kind or quality of the injury or damage is different than what was expected or intended; or
b. a different person, entity, real or personal property sustained the injury or damage than was expected or intended.
Here’s the best sentence I’ve ever read in an insurance policy– “We” do cover reasonable acts committed to protect persons and property.”
Or is it? Remember what I said about “intent?” Could an attorney get equally picky about what is reasonable? If it’s not defined in the policy, then it’s usually up to the judge/jury to decide the definition. *gulp*
So, Carrie- what’s the answer about guns and home insurance liability?????
Ah yes, for all you instant gratification folks that skipped to this section first, the answer is “It depends.” HA! Serves you right.
My personal opinion is this: I think that defending your property and family falls under the category of covered situations (always, always, ask your own insurance company if there’s ever any doubt). I think where you run into a big problem is when you start trying to define terms such as “intended”, “expected” or “reasonable”. It becomes very subjective indeed……And again, if it’s not defined in the policy, the court gets to make the definition.
And for your reading pleasure- here’s a very recent story where the burglar did in fact sue the homeowner.