Western National Mutual Insurance
sought a declaratory judgment seeking coverage for losses sustained
during a burglary.
Ct dismissed the jury for lack of disputed issued.
concluded that the burglary insurance policy in effect defined burglary
so as to exclude coverage of this burglary.
$15,587.40 worth of chemicals were stolen.
insured up to 20K.
policy contained a requirement of evidence of forcible entry.
AtWater brought a claim.
Atwater filed suit for 15,875.40 (loss), and $7500 for business losses
and attorney fees.
Expectations of the Insured
there is unequal bargaining power between the parties, the contract will
be strictly construed against the party who drafted it.
person lacks the necessary skill to read and understand the insurance
insurance agent is supposed to provide a policy that meets the needs of
a lay person.
to reasonable expectations.
require some kind of ambiguity in the policy before applying the
doctrine of reasonable expectations.
Keetons Approach to
objectively reasonable expectations
of applicants and
intended beneficiaries regarding
the terms of insurance contracts will be
honored even though painstaking study of policy
provisions would have negated those expectations.
Ambiguity of the language is not irrelevant under this standard, but
becomes a factor in determining the reasonable expectation of the
doctrine does not automatically remove the insured a responsibility to
read the policy.
does recognize that certain instances, such as where major exclusions
are hidden in the definitions section, the insured should be held ONLY
to reasonable knowledge of the literal
terms and conditions.
insured may show what ACTUAL expectations he had, but the factfinder
should determine whether those expectations where REASONABLE under the
burden is placed on the insurance company to communicate coverage and
exclusions of policies accurately and clearly.
does require that expectations of coverage by the insured by reasonable
under the circumstances.
burglary exclusion will not defeat the reasonable expectations of the
purchaser of the policy.
AtWater reasonably expected that its burglary insurance policy with
Western would cover the burglary that occurred.