Life Insurance Exclusions In A Policy – Felonies

What if an insured is killed while committing a burglary?  Is that covered in the policy as an accident?
A 1997, Dallas Court of Appeals opinion responds to this question.  The opinion is styled, Grant v. Group Life & Health Insurance Company.
Grant used a pry bar to break into a residence of Stokes.  When Grant entered the residence Stokes shot him five times, killing him.  Grant’s wife sued Group Life to recover benefits under an accident policy for the death of her husband.  Group Life moved for summary judgment o the basis that Grant died while committing a burglary and, therefore, his death was not accidental.  The trial court granted the summary judgment and Grant appealed.
The Court held that because Grant’s death was not accidental, the trial court correctly granted Group Life’s Motion for Summary Judgment.  Grant argues that because Group Life did not furnish her with a certificate of insurance, it is estopped from relying on undisclosed exclusions.  Because the policy in question does not provide coverage for Grant’s death the policy’s exclusions are irrelevant.
The policy only provides coverage for “accidental” injury.  Injuries are “accidental” and therefore, covered, if the injury is not the natural and probable consequence of the action or occurrence which resulted in the injury.  Grant’s wife argues that Grant did not subjectively anticipate the injury because his mode of stealing included taking precautions to break into homes that were unoccupied at the time he broke in.  Grant’s subjective intent is irrelevant.  The standard for determining whether an injury was reasonably anticipated is an objective standard.  As a matter of law, Grant should have reasonably anticipated that breaking into someone’s home at night with a pry bar could provoke the homeowner to respond with deadly force.
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