Insurance companies prohibited from denying claims of victims of abuse

Under Pennsylvania’s Unfair Insurance Practice Act, an insurance company may not deny a claim by an innocent co-insured where the loss was caused by the intentional act of another insured if the innocent co-insured is a victim of domestic violence. The Superior Court of Pennsylvania recently addressed this provision in Lynn v. Nationwide Insurance Company.

In this case, Husband and Wife owned a home, which was insured by Nationwide. Without Husband’s knowledge, Wife contacted their insurance agent and requested that the insurance policy be cancelled. Wife then drugged the couple’s children and set fire to the home while she and the children were inside. Wife’s plan failed and she was arrested.

Husband presented a claim to Nationwide for the fire damage. Nationwide denied coverage in part based on an exclusion for loss caused by intentional acts. Husband argued that he was a victim of domestic violence and that Wife’s attempted arson was part of a pattern of abuse. The Superior Court held that the issue needed to be submitted to a fact finder to determine if the Unfair Insurance Practices Act prevented Nationwide from denying coverage based on Wife’s conduct.