The Insurance Policy Definitions

Here is a 2024 opinion from the Northern District of Texas, Dallas Division, that deals with an insurance policy.  Specifically, the wording of an insurance policy.  The opinion is styled, Johnetta Askew Hunt v. Meridian Security Insurance Company State Auto Insurance Companies.
This is a summary judgment opinion regarding “residing” at a premises.  The case deals with the coverage provided by a policy and where an insured, Hunt, tries to get more coverage than the policy provides.
In Texas, interpretation of an insurance policy begins with its actual words, because it is presumed parties intend what the words of their contract say.
As applicable to “residence premises” here, when a policy defines a term, courts use that definition.  Courts endeavor to find the term’s ordinary and generally accepted meaning.  Texas law requires courts to begin that inquiry with the dictionary and then look to the term’s usage in other statutes, court decisions, and similar authorities.
The evidence shows that Hunt did not “reside” – that is she did not “live, dwell, abide, sojourn, stay, remain, lodge” at her residence on June 20, 2020, which is the date the policy went into effect.  Hunt testified multiple times that she did not start living at the residence until, at the earliest, July 2020.
The Hunt policy covered “the dwelling on the ‘residence premises’ shown in the Declarations.”  It further defined “residence premises” as:  “the one-family dwelling where you reside … on the inception date of the policy period shown in the Declarations and which is shown as the ‘residence premises’ in the Declarations.”  Hunt met the second requirement because the Declarations page lists her property.
But the “and” in the policy’s definition of residence premises requires more than that – it also requires residence.  That residence requirement is “clear and explicit.”  And the “plain, ordinary and generally prevailing meaning” of the word “reside” requires more than purchasing a home or intending to move into it.  Hunt did not live at the residence until some time after the purchase on June 20, 2020, thus, Hunt did not satisfy the policy’s “residence” requirement and the “residence” was not a “residence premises.”  There is no coverage.
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