Academic journal article Journal of Risk and Insurance

MURDER OF TENANT Is "ACCIDENT" UNDER LANDLORD'S LIABILITY POLICY

Academic journal article Journal of Risk and Insurance

MURDER OF TENANT Is "ACCIDENT" UNDER LANDLORD'S LIABILITY POLICY

Article excerpt

Agoado Realty Corporation v. United International Insurance Company, 95 N.Y.2d 141,733 N.E.2d 213, 711 N.Y.S.2d 141 (New York Court of Appeals, 2000)

Agoado Realty owns apartment buildings. In 1996, a tenant in one of them was murdered by an unknown assailant. The decedent's estate sued Agoado as landlord, alleging that the tenant's wrongful death occurred because of the landlord's negligence in maintaining premises security. The landlord's liability insurer raised a number of defenses to coverage, including an argument that the death was not an "accident" within the meaning of the policy because of the murder. The Court of Appeals (the highest state court in New York) rejected this defense as inconsistent with basic principles of insurance and a common sense reading of the policy.

The court reviewed state law on fortuity-based exclusions such as the exclusion for injury that is "expected or intended" by the insured and concluded that the apt way of interpreting the "accident" requirement in a liability policy (which covers accidental occurrences) is to exclude coverage only where intentional losses are inflicted by the insured, not where those losses are inflicted by persons beyond the control of the insured: "[I]n deciding whether a loss is the result of an accident, it must be determined, from the point of view of the insured, whether the loss was unexpected, unusual and unforeseen.....Moreover, if a coverage exclusion is intended that is not apparent from the language of the policy, it is the insurer's responsibility to make its intention clearly known. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.