New York’s Top Court Clarifies Vandalism Insurance

The top New York court says property insurance against vandalism includes coverage for malicious damage that isn’t specifically aimed at the insured property.

The ruling comes from a claim by Georgitsi Realty, owner of a four-story apartment building in Brooklyn, against Penn-Star Insurance Co.

The owner says excavation next door cracked the walls and foundations of the building, but those contractors ignored fines and a court order to stop.

In answering questions about New York law for the ongoing federal case, the New York Court of Appeals says acts not specifically directed at a property may be vandalism when they are malicious, with such deliberate disregard for others to be “willful or wanton.”

In a partial dissent, Judge Sheila Abdus-Salaam would exclude malicious acts where damaging property was not the primary intent.