Generally, insurance covers fortuitous loss. Merriam-Webster defines fortuitous as happening by chance, or having or showing good luck.  In the event you’ve experienced a loss, the noun luck doesn’t exactly come to mind.  For purposes of this article, we might define fortuitous as unintentional or accidental. 

You must also determine which view point to judge the loss. For example, most liability insurance excludes injuries or damages intentionally caused by the insured.  If we look from the victim’s point of view the loss will almost always be fortuitous, but the same is not true if we are judging the loss from the point of view of the tortfeasor.  Property insurance provides a good backdrop to test this theory.  Where an insured intentionally causes damage to his own property the loss will not be covered by insurance. Yet, if an insured experiences property loss due to someone else’s intentional conduct, the insured will be covered by his own policy.

In most cases even if the insurance policy itself does not expressly require the loss to be fortuitous most courts will imply this requirement in the policy. Yet, South Carolina adheres to an insured friendly analysis of fortuitous. In general, to exclude a loss from coverage, the insured must have had the specific intent not only to injure but to cause the particular type of injury suffered.  Miller, 231 S.E.2d 701 (S.C. 1977). The South Carolina Supreme Court best describes this rule in Mfgs. and Merchants Mut. Ins. Co. v. Harvey in the opinion, which reads: “Public policy forbids contracts indemnifying a person against loss resulting from his own willful wrongdoing.” Mfgs. And Merchants Mut. Ins. Co. v.  Harvey, 330 S.C. 152, 498 S.E.2d 222 (Ct. App. 1997).

While each type of insurance policy, whether auto insurance, liability insurance, property insurance or life insurance, presents different questions based on different facts, which may be governed by different laws, the general rule of thumb is that insurance will only cover unintentional acts which result in unintended harm.

Should you have any questions regarding insurance coverage we urge you to seek out a lawyers advice. You are welcome to contact us for a free consultation to answer any questions you may have.

Comments are closed.