Negligent Criminal Acts Excluded from Yacht Policy, Court Rules in Case of N.H. Boating Death

December 21, 2004

  • December 22, 2004 at 9:28 am
    Steve R says:
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    Under this concept there would be no coverage for druken operators. This should be constructed as against public policy

  • December 22, 2004 at 9:34 am
    Steve R says:
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    It is not even noon but I write as if I were drunken

  • December 23, 2004 at 8:34 am
    Chris says:
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    Let’s not forget that the ruling applies to a specific exclusion in a specific policy that was applied to specific facts.

    If you are referring to drunken drivers (your comment only says operators) of cars, I don’t believe that there is a similarly worded exclusion in the ISO form auto policy.

    Besides, why should it be against public policy for drunken operators, be they operators of boats, cars, or airplanes, to lose their coverage upon conviction of a drinking related crime that results in injury? Insurance is for accidents, not events that are sooner or later going to occur if the same moral hazard continues.

    Maybe if insurance companies didn’t take it in the shorts every time one of these killers got behind the wheel of a car or boat, maybe the penalties for such actions would be beefed up to actually be a deterent.

  • January 3, 2005 at 11:26 am
    Pat says:
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    There are two public policy arguments in tension here:

    First, that criminal acts or deliberate harm should not be insured or insurable, as the consequences of such acts are predictably harmful and should be born by their perpetrators rather than transferred to insurers. This held sway for many years in the standard market liability coverage exclusions and conditions, but eventually lost out to public policy argument number two, which is:

    Second – that the innocent victims of (unintentional) criminal acts by judgement-proof criminals, should not go uncompensated.

    Insurers always made the first argument, but were eventually overruled by activist judges and state insurance commissioners, so that the standard liability policy no longer contains a criminal act exclusion, (though intentional harm is still excluded).

    I think criminal acts should be excluded – drunk driving among them – since I believe in the first argument. If people who drove drunk and killed with their cars lost their houses, fewer people would drive drunk. This is how the public policy argument plays out.

    In standard insurance products, the tide has gone the other way. But as this decision points out, marine insurance is different, and its practitioners are still free to choose.



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