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Summary: Commercial liability forms (e.g., the commercial general liability coverage form, or the CGL form) and personal liability forms (e.g., the homeowners policy) have long contained a provision excluding from liability coverage  claims for “bodily injury” and “property damage” expected or intended by the insured. However, there is no consensus concerning the meaning of this phrase; courts have applied a variety of definitions and tests to determine whether liability coverage for the injury or loss should be excluded. This discussion analyzes the various issues concerning the interpretation of this phrase.

Topics covered:

Various approaches to interpretation

Are “expected” and “intended” synonymous?

The issue of intent is important

Resulting harm different than that intended

Intent to cause injury

Intentional act—probable consequence

Injury inflicted in self defense

Effect of intoxication or mental incapacity

“Occurrence” vs. “expected or intended”

Various Approaches to Interpretation

If the insured acts with the specific intent to cause some injury, harm, or damage, the exclusion applies. This seems simple enough and is accepted by the majority of courts. Any discussion of or contention with this rule centers around the issue of whether the harm actually caused was of a different type or of a more serious nature than was intended by the insured-actor.

If the act is intentional and results in injury which is a natural and probable consequence of that act, the exclusion applies without regard to whether or not some harm was intended. Some courts follow this legal doctrine of tort law. Others reject this rule as being inapplicable to the interpretation of contemporary general liability insurance policies.

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