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Zacarias v. Allstate Insurance Company
New Jersey Supreme Court
775 A.2d 1262 (2001)
Joao Zacarias (plaintiff) insured his boat under a $500,000 liability insurance policy with Allstate Insurance Company (defendant). The policy was 18 pages long, plus a two-page declarations sheet. The policy used large and bold type, with clearly spaced sections. On page three, the definitions section defined “insured person” to include “you and, if a resident of your household, . . . any relative.” On pages 12 and 13, the noncovered losses section included an intra-family exclusion that read: “We do not cover bodily injury to an insured person.” The declarations sheet outlined the coverages and liability limits and said it was subject to the policy provisions but did not list the intrafamilial exclusion. Zacarias allegedly negligently operated his boat with his wife on board, causing her injuries. Allstate denied coverage based on the intra-family exclusion, and Zacarias’s wife sued him for her injuries. Zacarias filed a lawsuit asking the court to either declare the exclusion void or indemnify him because Allstate did not inform him of it. The court granted Allstate summary judgment, dismissing Zacarias’s claims. The appellate court affirmed, with the majority finding the policy clear and unambiguous. One judge dissented, reasoning that the court should read the policy to conform to the insured’s reasonable expectations, especially given that Zacarias bought insurance intending to cover any liability claims arising from using his boat. Zacarias appealed to the New Jersey Supreme Court.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Verniero, J.)
Dissent (Long, J.)
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