Policyholders are often surprised to hear that their policies cover more than the run-of-the-mill claim. For example, a general liability policy may cover a cyber-related loss. See our prior post. As a more recent example, a federal court in South Carolina found that a parent’s homeowners’ policy obligated an insurer to defend a college student against hazing allegations. Allstate Ins. Co. v. Ingraham, No. 7:15-cv-3212 (D.S.C. Mar. 14, 2017).
That case involved a dispute over coverage for a lawsuit alleging that the policyholders’ child was involved in hazing freshman swimmers on the University of Virginia’s men’s swim team. The student sought coverage under the homeowners’ policy Allstate had issued to his parents. Allstate then sued, seeking a determination of coverage under the policy.
Allstate contended that it had no duty to defend because the allegations against the student arose out of “intentional hazing” so that there was no “accident” under the policy. The court rejected that argument, finding Allstate’s characterization of the underlying allegations and the applicable law too narrow. Rather, the underlying allegations were not solely based on intentional conduct and, in any case, intentional conduct that produced an unintended injury constituted an “accident” under the policy. For similar reasons, the court did not accept Allstate’s position that the intentional acts exclusion released Allstate from its duty to defend.