Secura wins coverage dispute where single policy insured two homes but occupants deemed not "household" members
Helen Stasa owned and farmed 170 acres with two homes approximately a mile apart. She insured the parcel and both homes with Secura Insurance Company. Her son had occupied the second home for 30 years. It fronted a different road and was approximately a mile from her home, but connected by an interior driveway.
Jeffrey Stasa, the son, allowed his dog to run loose; it ran into the road and caused Larry Matthews' ATV to flip. Matthews suffered a head injury and sued the Stasas. The parties agreed to a consent judgment of $300,000.00 against Jeffrey Stasa as the owner of the dog. Meanwhile, Secura filed a Declaratory Judgment action, seeking a ruling that the homeowners coverage purchased by Helen did not apply to protect Jeffrey.
The Court of Appeals ruled that even though the insurance policy covered both homes, it only covered the "residents" of the "household" occupied by Helen Stasa. These terms were not defined in the policy, and the insured and the victims had argued that pursuant to the multi-dwelling policy, "household" should include both homes. While that might seem logical under the circumstances, the Court held that the insurer was obligated to provide coverage only to the occupants of Helen Stasa's dwelling. The Court emphasized factors demonstrating that the son maintained a separate "household" from his mother.
The Matthews' attorney was not allowed to argue that the policy should also apply because it covered animals on the insured property because that issue was not raised in a timely fashion.