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No Homeowner’s Coverage for Injury Claim by Resident Living with The Insured

November 3, 2023

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Homeowner’s insurance policies typically provide first-party coverage for property damage as well as third-party liability coverage for injuries which occur on the insured property.  The liability coverage is subject to various exclusions, one of which precludes coverage for dependents or others who live with the insured.  

 

In Iaeck v. Barnaba, the New Jersey Appellate Division recently addressed the applicability of this exclusion in a case involving an injury claim by a woman who had lived in a condominium with the insured owner. The resident sued the owner after a fall down a flight of stairs, and the owner sought coverage under her homeowner’s insurance policy. The plaintiff was not related to the owner but had lived with her for many years under a verbal lease and paid rent. The two shared certain common spaces in the condo.

 

The policy provided personal liability coverage for the owner but contained a “Covered person’s or dependent’s personal injury” exclusion which precluded coverage for damages for personal injury “for which you or a family member can be held legally liable in any way, to a spouse, a family member, a person who lives with you, or a person named in the Coverage Summary.” The insurer denied coverage based on this exclusion and plaintiff amended her complaint to assert a direct claim against the insurer for coverage. Plaintiff obtained a large default judgment against the owner and the trial court ultimately granted summary judgment to the insurer, finding that it did not have a duty to defend or indemnify the owner for plaintiff’s injury claims.

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