Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Liability Claims That Occur Away From Your Home?
PERSONAL LIABILITY COVERAGES
Personal liability pays to defend you in court against certain lawsuits and provides coverage if you are found legally responsible for someone else's injury or property damage. Also note that if an injured party does not want to pursue a lawsuit against you, but does want to get some of their medical bills covered, most homeowners insurance policies offer a very low limit, usually $5,000 of coverage under Coverage F (Medical Payments).
Medical payments pays the medical bills of people hurt on your property. However, it might also pay for some injuries that happen away from your home, such as your dog biting someone at the park.
Similarly, homeowners insurance policies under personal liability coverage (Coverage E) may also cover you and your resident relatives if either of you accidentally injure someone or damage another person's property, while you are away from your home.
See below for an example of policy language (*read your own individual policy for the exact verbage)
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 an “insured” is legally liable. Damages include prejudgment interest awarded against an “insured”; and
2. Provide a defense at our expense by counsel of our choice, even if the suit is groundless, false or fraudulent. We may investigate and settle any claim or suit that we decide is appropriate. Our duty to settle or defend ends when our limit of liability for the “occurrence” has been exhausted by payment of a judgment or settlement.
Coverage F — Medical Payments To Others
We will pay the necessary medical expenses that are incurred or medically ascertained within three years from the date of an accident causing “bodily injury”. Medical expenses means reasonable charges for medical, surgical, x-ray, dental, ambulance, hospital, professional nursing, prosthetic devices and funeral services. This coverage does not apply to you or regular residents of your household except “residence employees”. As to others, this coverage applies only:
1. To a person on the “insured location” with the permission of an “insured”; or
2. To a person off the “insured location”, if the “bodily injury”: a. Arises out of a condition on the “insured location” or the ways immediately adjoining; b. Is caused by the activities of an “insured”; c. Is caused by a “residence employee” in the course of the “residence employee’s” employment by an “insured”; or d. Is caused by an animal owned by or in the care of an “insured”.
Your homeowners insurance policy will not cover intentional acts is which you hurt someone or damaged property on purpose.
Liability Claim Examples
Here are a few examples of liability claims that were covered under a homeowners insurance policy. The examples are from agents around the country. The descriptions are very brief and do not include the detailed facts around the case. *These are only examples and anyone reading this post should not assume their claim will be paid out due to a similar situation.
BAD GOLF SWING: Golfer backswing that hit another person in the eye. The person lost their eye. Policy paid up to the limit on the home policy and $400,000 on the umbrella.
COBRA KAI: Karate Class, insured broke another karate student's arm while sparring. Paid Out $40,000.
RIDING LAWN MOWER: Grandfather ran over his grandson's foot with a riding mower, completely cutting off the grandson's toes. Policy paid out $300,000.
I KNOW THIS ROAD LIKE THE BACK OF MY HAND: Three 17 year old males were driving down a very busy street in their home town. Driver said, “I’ve been up and down this street so many times, I could drive it blind folded.” Passenger in back seat put his hands over eyes of driver. Car went off the road, hit a house and totaled the vehicle. The driver and other front seat passenger were injured. $300,000 paid out by the homeowners policy of the rear passenger’s parents (the kid who blindfolded the driver).
WHO'S LINE IS IT ANYWAY?: Neighbor decided to cut down a bunch of pine trees at the back of his property. Turned out that the trees were actually on the property behind them. $10,000 Personal Liability payout. UGH
He CAME IN LIKE A WRECKING BALL: Burly guy swings on a dancing pole in a house. Dancing pole comes out of ceiling and hits female in the face. Female suffered severe injuries to her face and had to have plastic surgery. Claim paid out $500,000.
AN EXPENSIVE HABIT: Insured put out a cigarette in the back yard. Hours later, it caused a wood fence to go on fire. The fire burned down his townhome along the adjoining two townhomes. $1.4 million paid between underlying and umbrella. Kicker is he just bought the umbrella a month earlier.
DOG BITE: a dog that bit a child in the face. The policy paid out its maximum limit.
FOUL BALL: Insured tossed a baseball to his kid's coach. Coach missed it. The ball hit him in the mouth, knocking out a tooth. $50,000 settlement.
GRANDFATHER'S GUN: Grandfather left his 18yr old granddaughter to house sit for the weekend. He gave very strict instructions of no guests. Of course, granddaughter throws a huge house party. One of the party guest show up and find the grandfather's hand gun in kitchen cabinet; "Thinks it's a toy gun" and pulls trigger. A bullet hits the refrigerator. Shrapnel from refrigerator hits another guest. Grandfather is held responsible. Injured party guest get grandfather's home and umbrella policy limits, totally $1.5 million.
Hope this helps.
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