Exclusions for Intentional Acts in Motorist Insurance

Exclusions for Intentional Acts in Motorist Insurance

State legislatures have authorized motorist insurance companies to exclude coverage, including uninsured motorist coverage, for any damages from an intentional act in their policies. Public policy prohibits insurance coverage for intentional acts because a person should pay for his or her intentional injury to another person. Further, the courts have held that injuries caused by an intentional act are not caused by "accident."

Whether an act is intentional for purposes of the exclusion depends on the facts of the particular case. If the parties agree on the facts, a court can make an intentional injury determination as a matter of law. Intent to cause an injury can be inferred if the injury is the natural and probable consequence of the insured's intentional act. Whether or not an intentional act has occurred can be inferred from the insured's conduct.

It is clear that an intentionally staged vehicle collision that is part of an insurance fraud scheme is not a covered accident under an insurance policy. However, injuries suffered by a person after an insured, in a fit of jealousy, drove his vehicle over a tent were covered under the insured's policy because a jury found the insured's conduct to be reckless rather than intentional or expected.

Where an element for recklessness exists, even a criminal conviction for aggravated vehicular assault does not determine whether an insured's conduct was intentional for purposes of the exclusion of coverage for intentional acts. The exclusion is tied to the insured's personal expectation that an injury was intended.

Copyright 2012 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.