SW Legal studies in Business

Intentional Torts Not Covered by Umbrella Liability Policies
Description South Dakota high court held that an insurer did not have a duty to defend an insured who had a liability umbrella policy and was sued for alienation of affection. The court held that intentional torts are excluded from coverage.
Topic Insurance
Key Words

Duty to Defend; Umbrella Policy; Liability; Alienation of Affection

C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts David Kalt and Peggy were married in 1976. In 2000, Peggy was hired as a manager of a surgery clinic. In 2001, Peggy and one of the physicians, Harbert, began an affair. When David discovered the affair, he divorced Peggy and sued Harbert for alienation of affection. Harbert had a personal liability umbrella policy from State Farm and demanded State Farm cover the suit. State Farm began a declaratory judgment action to determine if Harbertís policy provided a duty to defend and cover this action. The trial court held for State Farm. Harbert appealed.
Decision

Affirmed. A liability insurerís duty to defend extends to any third party claim asserted against an insured that arguably falls within the policyís coverage. An alienation of affection claim falls within the intentional tort exclusion of the policy; that released State Farm from having a duty to defend. As a general rule, public policy prohibits extending insurance coverage to individuals who commit intentional torts. Alienation of affection is an intentional tort.

Citation State Farm Fire & Casualty Co. v. Harbert, 741 N.W.2d 228 (Sup. Ct., S.D., 2007)

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