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Morristown Personal Injury Attorney > Blog > Dog Bite Injuries > Primary Home Insurer Ordered to Cover Dog Bite at Insured’s Second Home

Primary Home Insurer Ordered to Cover Dog Bite at Insured’s Second Home


The topic of insurance and coverage can become a complicated issue, especially when an incident occurs at a person’s second home. But even if a homeowner has full coverage at both homes, insurance companies will still try to deny claims, resulting in lengthy and costly court battles.

A lower court ordered a primary home insurer to defend a couple in a dog bite lawsuit when a house cleaner was injured at the couple’s second home. New Jersey’s Superior Court, Appellate Decision, affirmed this ruling.

The couple own a primary residence in Sparta, New York, and a second home in Montauk, New York. Their dog attacked a house cleaner at their Montauk residence, causing injuries. Franklin Mutual Insurance Co. issued a homeowners insurance policy for the primary residence which provided for coverage for liability to others, limited to $1 million, and medical payments to others, with a $10,000 limit. Also included in the policy was a personal excess liability umbrella coverage endorsement for $5 million.

Scottsdale Insurance Co. issued a homeowners insurance policy for the second home. This property had a $1 million personal liability limit and a medical payments limit of $5,000. The policy included a limited animal liability coverage form that limited its liability for dog bites to $10,000.

In July and December 2021, FMI denied coverage for the dog bite incident. In October 2021, the house cleaner filed a lawsuit against the couple in the Supreme Court of New York, seeking damages for pain and suffering, lost wages, and medical expenses.

In May 2022, the couple filed a complaint against FMI in New Jersey Superior Court,. They claimed that FMI breached the insurance contract by refusing to defend them. The court ordered FMI to defend them in the lawsuit and to reimburse them for defense costs not covered by any other insurance policy. FMI filed an appeal, which was granted by the Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division.

The appeals court sided with the couple and affirmed the ruling of the lower court. The appeals court looked at the “plain and ordinary meaning” of the insurance policy. “Coverage E” of FMI’s policy provides for coverage for bodily injury caused by an occurrence, which there clearly was (the dog bite). The court then looked at the “locations not insured exclusion” portion of the policy. It stated that it “covers bodily injury to a residence employee while performing such duties at other premises.” In this case, a residence employee was clearly performing duties at another premises besides the Sparta property.

Contact a New Jersey Personal Injury Lawyer Today

Dog bites are typically covered by homeowners insurance. However, many insurers will do what they can to deny claims for various reasons.

Dealing with insurance companies can be frustrating. Let a Morristown dog bite injury attorney from The Law Offices of Michael P. Burakoff handle your case. We understand the various avenues of compensation for dog bite injuries. Schedule a consultation today by calling (973) 455-1567 or filling out the online form.



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