Animal Exclusion In Liability Policy

In places like Weatherford, Texas and Mineral Wells, Texas, knowing about animal exclusions in insurance policies is important.  Areas that are rural are usually more inclined to have people who own animals of one type or another.  Dogs may be particular to more urban areas but in the rural areas there is greater likelihood of persons owning bigger dogs plus, horses and cows.

Animal exclusions become important in these more rural areas and animal exclusions is discussed in a Western District of Texas, Austin Division opinion styled, Colony Insurance Company v. Burleson County Saddle Club, Inc.

Colony filed a declaratory judgment action seeking to have the Court declare that there is no coverage in this case.  A person was injured while riding a horse at a sporting event at the Burleson County Saddle Club.  Burleson sought coverage from Colony.

Colony moved for summary judgement based on the policy’s animal exclusion.

Here, the lawsuit does not allege facts within the scope of the Policy’s coverage.  The horse “slipped on a dangerous latent condition on the land” and fell on the person causing injury.  These allegations demonstrate the person’s injuries arose directly or indirectly “out of animals” and that the horse was a but-for cause of the injuries.

Burleson argues the animal exclusion should not apply because the injury did not “arise directly or indirectly” from contact with the horse.  Specifically Burleson seems to suggest that there can be only a single but-for cause for any given accident and that the but-for cause in this instance was a dangerous premises condition and not the horse that fell upon the injured person.  Yet, an accident may have many but-for causes, and here, the horse was a but-for cause.  Thus, the injury at issue arose “directly or indirectly” from contact with an animal and falls outside the scope of the policy.

In sum, because the Burleson petition does not allege facts that would potentially state a cause of action falling within the terms of the policy, Colony has not duty to defend or indemnify Burleson in the underlying lawsuit.  Therefore, the Court grants Colony’s motion for summary judgment.

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