We’re not just lawyers, we’re parents too. We love our kids they are very cute, but they are little vehicles of destruction. When you add four boys to the mix, the odds of sudden and “accidental” catastrophe is virtually guaranteed increasing the need for protection with property insurance!
So when my 3-year old, with his big angelic brown eyes runs passed me and hides, immediately followed by one of the older boys yelling, “Dad, you aren’t going to like this! Come look…,” there is little doubt that something has hit the fan.
On this particular occasion, it was a Duncan yoyo… a wall… and a very big and formerly stunningly beautiful 70 inch curved LED flat panel TV. Two holes in the wall and a formerly amazingly wonderful television with a fatal and grotesque wound that will forever haunt me in my dreams. To add fuel to the fire, it is impossible not to dwell on the fact that I had bought the boys their yo-yos, all in an attempt to convince them that I was the world’s greatest human being because I was able to do a pretty solid cat-in-the-cradle and around-the -world.
After the shock and anguish subsides, it is not surprising that it all circles back to the passion that is our business, insurance coverage and litigation. Something like this reminds us that people really need to know what insurance coverage they have.
It also unfortunately reminds me of the time the boys knocked over a can of paint onto the beige wool carpet in the bedroom and the wood floor…but the point is, that parents of all children should know what is covered and what is not.
The reality is that I know that I am covered for yoyo physical loss and damage, but my neighbor across the street would not be. I would be covered for the paint incident, but my neighbor would not be.
In very basic terms there are “All Risk” homeowner’s insurance policies and “Named Perils” policies.
There are policies which are “All Risk” for both the dwelling and contents, and there are policies with “All Risk” coverage for only the dwelling and “Named Perils” for the contents.
So what about the yoyo? Well, the television is a contents item and the wall is the dwelling. If I have All Risk for both contents and dwelling, then I am covered!!! If I have All Risk for only dwelling, my wall is covered, but I am out of luck for my TV!!!
A “Named Peril” typically has similar exclusions as an “All Risk” policy but it differs in that a “Named Peril” policy only covers a certain number of named causes of loss to begin with. A typical Named Peril policy may include: lightning or fire, hail or windstorm, damage caused by aircraft, explosions, riots or civil disturbances, smoke damage, damage caused by vehicles, theft, vandalism, falling objects, volcanic eruption, damage from the weight of snow, ice, or sleet, water damage from plumbing, heating, or air conditioning system, water heater cracking, tearing, and burning, damage from electrical current, and pipe freezing.
There is NO NAMED PERIL FOR YOYO DAMAGE or juvenile indiscretion!!!
(Notably, a certain mom in the house may have asked why it wouldn’t be covered as vandalism, but I couldn’t bring myself to believe that this little 3-year old did it deliberately or maliciously…)
While a hole in a wall and a fatally wounded television are not even close to the worst that can happen in life, and we know that our family will survive, there are an unimaginable number of catastrophes that occur that people can’t so easily bounce back from. Most recently, our client had damage from a wall of water that cascaded down the street from a water main break. Our client was covered with an All Risk policy, but her neighbor with a Named Perils policy was not. We have had clients with cracked foundations by pile driving down the street, damage due to construction next door, and many clients with significant ice dam damage. Each scenario is one where typically an All Risk policy would cover them, but a Named Perils policy would not.
So next time your kids decide to play football near the china cabinet, think about what insurance means to you, think about the TV fatally wounded by a yoyo and a 3-year old.
Read your insurance policy and speak to your broker, and most of all, keep the kids outside until they are old enough to pay for the damage themselves!