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Exploring Coverage Under Homeowners Insurance

Perhaps the most misunderstood of insurance coverages is homeowners.  Did you know that your homeowners insurance may cover you for losses that occur away from your home?  It all depends on the language found in the small print of your policy.  Your insurance company hopes you’ll never take on the daunting challenge of deciphering that fine print.  It’s time to change that.

Insurers have the duty to defend their insureds from claims that are potentially within the terms of coverage.  An off site loss may well be covered.  For example, dog bites away from the home are probably covered.  If you are walking Fido around the block and he breaks away from you and bites someone, your homeowners will probably cover this loss.  As a plaintiffs’ lawyer, I have successfully asserted such claims and convinced the defendants’ homeowners’ insurer to pay.

I recently settled a case involving a child who ran out into the middle of traffic straight into the side of moving car.  I could find absolutely nothing wrong with the driving of the motorist.  And so, I looked for another theory of liability.  I found it in the homeowners insurance covering his step-mother.  This child, an emotionally and intellectually challenged 7 year old, was staying with his father and step-mother for the summer.  He had just arrived at their home in Philadelphia.  Despite their knowledge of his disability and the fact that the newness of his arrival presented additional challenges, they failed to make sure that he was properly supervised.  This child was able to escape from the house.  He ran straight out into the street and was very badly injured.  The homeowners insurer covered the claim, based on negligent supervision, and paid out their $100,000 policy limit.

I am currently handling another troubling situation and am hoping homeowners insurance will again come to the rescue.  My client’s 16 year old son negligently started a fire in his bedroom.  My client received a letter from the landlord claiming damages in excess of $70,000.  She has no renters insurance.  We are exploring the possibility that her son’s father’s homeowners insurance will cover this claim, even though the son no longer lives full time with his father.  Stay tuned for the conclusion to this story.

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