Shepperson v. Metro. Property and Casualty Ins. Co.

Recently, the U.S.D.C for the District of Massachusetts determined that M.G.L c.175, §99 provides coverage for an innocent insured even when an unnamed co-insured may have intentionally set fire to the parties’ home. The plaintiff sought coverage for extensive fire damage to her home, irrespective of whether the damage was intentionally caused by her son. In response, the defendant, Metropolitan Property and Casualty Insurance Co., argued that plaintiff’s son was a “resident” of the premises, and fell within the definition of an unnamed insured on the policy. Metropolitan contended the plaintiff could not recover if it was determined that the son intentionally set the fire. The Court found that the son qualified as a resident and therefore, was excluded coverage under the policy for his intentional acts. Nevertheless, the Court held that the policy exclusion was barred under Massachusetts law.

The Court found notable distinction between the Standard policy’s use of “the insured” versus a typical fire policy’s use of “a(ny) insured” and held that the exclusion permits coverage for an innocent co-insured. The Court also noted their decision was in accord with the “clear trend” of other jurisdictions to allow coverage for innocent co-insureds.