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More Insurance Lessons from the NFL: Intentional Acts

By January 4, 2011 February 26th, 2019 No Comments

It is no big secret that I am a really big Cleveland Browns fan and watching the NFL on Sundays is a pretty common activity for our family. However, to my surprise the NFL has also become a good source for explaining some important insurance topics. Earlier this year in the blog post “3 Lessons Tom Brady Can Teach Us About PA Auto Insurance“, Tom Brady’s mid-season auto accident demonstrated the importance of having adequate auto insurance liability limits.  Now a recent intentional tripping of a Dolphins player by a Jets coach has layed the ground work for explaining the liability exclusion for intentional acts found in most PA insurance policies (see the video below).

Why Liability Insurance is Important

– Liability insurance is the part of an insurance policy that pays, up to the limit stated on the declaration page, for claims that you are found negligent for causing. For example, liability insurance on your auto insurance policy could pay if you caused an accident that damaged someone else’s car.  Or, your home insurance policy could pay if you “accidently” tripped someone at a football game.

– The other very important benefit of liability insurance is legal defense when claims and suits are brought against you.  Typically, the insurance company investigates claims, hires attorneys and you rarely have to do anything other than cooperate in any investiagation. In most liability policies, the defense amount is unlimited.

Intentional Acts are Excluded

The bad news is that if you intentionally cause damage to someone else or to their property, not only is coverage for a claim potentially excluded, but the insurance company’s duty to defend you may be excluded as well. Thus, “intentionally” tripping someone could be excluded since those activities are within your control and they were not accidental. This could leave you personally responsible for a significant amount of damages depending on the severity of the injury and financial status of the person injured.

Some Intential Act Exceptions

– One common exception found in PA homeowner insurance polcies is for self defense, protecting others or protecting property.  For example, you may hurt an intruder in the home who later tries to sue you for these injuries. The homeowner insurance policy will defend and pay any damages awarded.

– Another common PA homowner insurance policy exception is when a child under the age of 13 intentionally causes damage to the property of others. For example, if a 10 year old boy intentionally throws a rock through a window, the homeowner policy may cover the damage to replace the glass up to a $1,000.

Overall, it should be no surprise that intentional acts are excluded on most insurance policies but it is a good reminder how split second decisions could impact our financial futures. Go Browns!