Insurance Law Lesson 76: Drunken Intent

General liability policies (personal and commercial) generally provide coverage for “bodily injury” and “property damage” caused by an “occurrence.” An “occurrence” is “an accident.” (Lessons 19 and 20). This is because insurance covers fortuity, not intentional injury. (Lesson 45). What about actions done under intoxication?

Group Ins. Co. v. Czopek was a DJ lawsuit (Lesson 41) arising out of a drunken assault on two police officers. 440 Mich 590 (1992). The officers were seriously injured and brought a civil suit. The defendant sought coverage under a homeowner’s insurance policy, but the insurer denied coverage because the assault was intentional. The Michigan Supreme Court agreed:

“Where an insured willingly consumes an intoxicating substance, he may not use that consumption as a defense to the requirement of intent in an insurance policy. To allow such a defense would be to create the ability to act unwisely without the requisite financial responsibility.” Accordingly, they held that there had been no “occurrence” and no coverage was owed.

But, see Amerisure Ins. Co. v. Auto-Owners Ins. Co., 262 Mich.App. 10 (2004)…



Leave a Reply