Vaughn vs. Stillwater Property & Casualty Insurance Co., No. N15C-05-035 AML, 2017 Del. Super. LEXIS 308 (Del. Super. June 23, 2017)

A person’s status on the date of loss—not his status at the start of the policy period—determines whether that person is an “insured”; an ex-husband is not a “relative.”

The insured's ex-husband was denied coverage for fire damage to his personal property because he was neither a named insured nor a relative of the named insured on the date of loss. An amended declaration, which added the plaintiff as a named insured, did not bestow coverage retroactively as nothing on the face of the amended declaration indicated it was retroactive. The effective date unambiguously indicated the amendment was prospective. Principles of equity or fairness could not vary the terms of the unambiguous policy. The date of loss was the relevant date for coverage purposes. As such, preliminary investigations for coverage determinations should include verifying the claimant’s status on the date of loss, e.g., marital status, living arrangements, age, in order to evaluate the threshold issue of standing.


Case Law Alerts, 1st Quarter, January 2018

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