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Bite by Dog Sitting in Parked Car Not Covered by Auto Insurance Policy
Description Iowa high court held that automobile insurer is not responsible for liability arising from an auto owner's dog biting a child who approached the parked car, which had a door open. The injury was not related to the use of the car, so the auto policy did not apply.
Topic Insurance
Key Words Coverage; Use of a Car
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Keppler had his dog with him in his van, which was parked at a flea market, engine off. A child approached the van, which had an open door, and was bitten by Keppler's dog. When Keppler was sued by the child's parents, he sued his auto insurer, American, for coverage. The trial court held that American was required by the policy to provide coverage since the policy covered "bodily injury ... due to the use of a car..." American appealed.
Decision Reversed. The court gives "broad, general and comprehensive" construction to coverage clauses. However, there must be a causal connection between the injury and the use of the vehicle. "Keppler's van had nothing to do with the biting of the child, beyond providing the site where it happened." The van was not functioning; the injury was not "due to the use of a car." The insurer is not responsible.
Citation Keppler v. American Family Mutual Insurance Co., 588 N.W.2d 105 (Sup. Ct., Iowa, 1999)

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