Filing Lawsuit for Declaratory Relief in Insurance Coverage Dispute

When there is an insurance coverage dispute, the insurance company or insured will likely file a lawsuit for declaratory relief for the court to declare whether or not there is insurance coverage for a particular risk / loss. This lawsuit for declaratory relief may come on the heels of the insured being sued by a third-party claimant or when such lawsuit is impending.

When the underlying facts are not in dispute, it becomes a question of law to determine whether a risk / loss is covered by the insurance policy or whether applicable exclusions in the policy bar coverage.

A case dealing with an automobile liability policy demonstrates the court declaring as a matter of law that exclusions in the policy barred coverage for a very tragic loss. In this case, the driver of a van for a daycare left an infant in the back of the parked van resulting in the death of the infant. The driver had a personal automobile liability policy. The policy however did not identify the van; it covered his personal sedan. The policy excluded vehicles the driver used in the course of his employment as well as any vehicle other than the driver’s covered sedan that is furnished to the driver for his regular use. Based on these exclusions, the court declared as a matter of law that the driver’s automobile policy did not cover the driver for the tragic loss. See, e.g., Bryant v. Windhaven Ins. Co., 2015 WL 4634549 (Fla. 3d DCA 2015).

Please contact David Adelstein at dadelstein@gmail.com or (954) 361-4720 if you have questions or would like more information regarding this article. You can follow David Adelstein on Twitter @DavidAdelstein1.

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