Intentional Injury Exclusion in Auto Insurance

Intentional Injury Exclusion in Auto Insurance

When a vehicle is involved in an automobile accident, the conduct of an insured may activate the automobile insurance policy's exclusion for intentional injury. Intentional injuries include suicide and assault, among other acts. Even though some states require automobile insurance companies to provide statutory minimum coverage, the companies may exclude coverage for intentional injuries. The intentional injury exclusion prohibits an insured, which caused an intentional injury to himself or herself or to another person, from recovering insurance benefits for that injury. This is a common exclusion in automobile insurance policies. Further, most no-fault statutes contain intentional injury exclusions.

An intentional injury is not an accident. Based on that alone, most automobile insurance policies would not provide coverage, and the intentional injury exclusion would not be needed. However, some automobile insurance policies provide coverage for injuries that arise from ownership, use, or operation of a vehicle. That could leave the insurance company open to liability for intentional injuries. For those policies, the intentional injury exclusion is necessary for the insurance company to avoid that risk.

Whether an injury is intentional has been the subject of many court cases. And the case results are unpredictable. The determination of whether an injury is intentional depends on state case law. Courts are called upon to distinguish between intentional acts and the results of those acts, which may or may not be intended. There are many different methods used to decide what an intentional injury is. Many jurisdictions view the incident from the standpoint of the victim not the assailant. However, some jurisdictions will view the incident from the assailant's point of view and deny recovery. Some courts require that the insured intended the act and caused some kind of injury for the intentional injury exclusion to apply. Once a court finds that a harm was intended, it is immaterial that the actual harm caused was of the same type or degree that the insured intended.

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