Debunking The Myth that Insurance Coverage is Not Available or Allowed for Intentional Torts or Damages

Christopher French, Penn State Law


Over the years, a myth has developed that insurance coverage is not available or allowed for intentional injuries or damage. This myth has two primary bases: one, the “fortuity” doctrine, which provides that insurance should only cover losses that happen by chance; and two, public policy, which allegedly disfavors allowing insurance for intentional injuries or damage. This article dispels that myth. Many types of liability insurance policies expressly cover intentional torts including trademark infringement, copyright infringement, invasion of privacy, defamation, disparagement, and improper employment practices such as discrimination. In addition, punitive damages, which typically are awarded for intentional misconduct, are covered by insurance policies in most jurisdictions. Further, a public policy analysis actually favors allowing insurance recoveries for intentional injuries or damage. No empirical evidence has been offered to support the argument that the availability of liability insurance increases misconduct by policyholders while the public policy interests of compensating innocent victims and enforcing the terms of contracts are advanced by allowing insurance for intentional injuries or damage.