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“Trick and Device” Exclusion

 Summary: In the early days of development of automobile physical damage insurance it was common for policies to promise protection against “theft, robbery, or pilferage.” Then, the policies offered little additional explanation of the meaning of those terms and the word “theft” was particularly troublesome; no one could decide if it included loss caused by the insured being swindled. In some instances, coverage or denial depended on the law of the state or territory in which the insured resided, i.e., did laws relating to “theft” include larceny by swindle or did they exclude it? In other cases, coverage depended on how a court might interpret “theft.” Most often, coverage depended on whether a particular adjuster or insurance company claims department viewed a swindle as “theft.” This article discusses this issue and the false pretenses exclusion that the issue has created.

Topics covered:

General information

Exclusion’s effect

False pretense coverage

“Acquired” autos

Other provisions of CA 25 03

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