Property insurance claim is denied based on "animal exclusion."
Lawrence P. Nolan sued Auto-Owners' Insurance Company, seeking insurance coverage for damage caused to a rental home by the tenants' 18 animals. According to Nolan, he didn't realize that the tenants were violating their lease by keeping the animals, primarily dogs, until after they had caused considerable damage. Auto-Owners pointed to the exclusionary language in the policy and refused to honor Nolan's claim. Nolan argued that the policy language involving "kept" animals did not apply because he was unaware of the presence of the animals and that the damage actually resulted from the tenants' total failure to address the animals' feces and urine. He also argued that the language addressed to "wear and tear" damage did not apply to this catastrophic situation. The Court disagreed and upheld the parties' "utmost liberty of contracting." It also argued that Nolan did not meet his duty of showing that he did not receive notice of AutoOwners' alleged change in the policy language.