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Click here for the full text of this decision The evidence was sufficient to support the trial court’s finding that Neal’s race cars were used for “recreational purposes,” within the common meaning of that phrase, that is, for “refreshment by means of some pastime,” or as “a pastime, diversion, exercise, or other resource affording relaxation and enjoyment.” FACTS:During the time period 1992 to 1996, Richard K. Neal purchased two race cars. The cars were kept on the premises of Neal’s residence in a building used as a workshop, garage and storage facility. In December 1996, the cars were destroyed when the building burned, leaving nothing of residual salvage value. Shortly after the fire, Neal filed a claim under his homeowners insurance policy, and Farmers paid the portion of his claim representing the building and some personal property. Farmers, however, refused to pay the remainder of Neal’s claim, arguing that the destroyed race cars and related components were expressly excluded under Neal’s policy. Neal subsequently sued Farmers, seeking compensation for the loss of the disputed property as well as for statutory penalties and cleanup and removal costs. Following a bench trial in October 2002, a Titus County trial court ruled in favor of Neal, ordering Farmers to pay $119,733.15. Farmers appeals, questioning the legal and factual sufficiency of the trial court’s determination that Neal’s race cars were covered under his homeowners insurance policy. HOLDING:Affirmed. This appeal turns on whether two race cars, and associated automobile parts, were vehicles “used for recreational purposes” within the meaning of Neal’s standard homeowners insurance policy issued by Farmers or, more precisely, whether there was sufficient evidence presented at trial that they were so used. Although reasonable minds may differ in their view of what constitutes a recreational activity or, more specifically, what is encompassed in the phrase “vehicles used for recreational purposes,” Farmers has state-approved or state-promulgated forms to use in its homeowners policies that employ that rather elastic language. Exceptions and limitations to coverage generally construed strictly against the insurer and in favor of the insured, Hallman v. Allstate Ins. Co., No. 05-02-00962-CV (Tex. App. Dallas July 30, 2003, no pet.), but courts also “adopt the construction of an exclusionary clause urged by the insured as long as that construction is not unreasonable, even if the construction urged by the insurer appears to be more reasonable or a more accurate reflection of the parties’ intent.” Nat’l Union Fire Ins. Co. v. Hudson Energy Co., 811 S.W.2d 552 (Tex. 1991). Neal testified he and his son took the dragster to the races during the warmer months of the year as a “recreational activity,” before preparing for hunting season. Neal also testified that, during the cooler months, he and his son would work on their cars as a father and son activity and would “play with them, monkey with them, tinker with them . . . for enjoyment,” “for fun,” and “for recreational purposes.” Neal’s wife agreed with the “recreational purposes” categorization of the activity. Neal testified that, in season, the family would take the dragster to races approximately once a month, depending on the family budget; that, although he did win money on occasion, he never won enough in any race to pay the expenses he and his family incurred in getting to and participating in it, and that he justified the loss of money because he considered it “recreational activity.” Neal described two categories of participants on the racing scene, “sportsman,” into which he and other hobbyists and part-timers fell, and “professional,” consisting of those who raced as a business. He noted that, in contrast to Neal’s racing practices, the business racers treat racing like a job, working on it “every day of the week” and going to all the races they can find. The court determines whether, considering the evidence as a whole, the trial court’s finding of recreational use was against the great weight and preponderance of the evidence. The court concludes the evidence was sufficient to support the trial court’s finding that Neal’s race cars were used for “recreational purposes,” within the common meaning of that phrase, that is, for “refreshment by means of some pastime,” or as “a pastime, diversion, exercise, or other resource affording relaxation and enjoyment.” Random House Dictionary, pg. 1613. Farmers also contends that Neal’s policy was void because Neal intentionally concealed or misrepresented material facts or circumstances. Specifically, Farmers contends Neal intentionally concealed the existence of the race cars because he did not own them at the time he purchased his insurance policy and failed to affirmatively disclose to Farmers that he subsequently purchased the cars and was storing them on the residence premises. The record itself contains no evidence Neal intended to conceal or misrepresent material facts in an effort to defraud Farmers. The record reflects that, on at least two occasions, Neal contacted Farmers with information he thought relevant to the policy in question, thinking that adjustments to the policy might be necessary. Farmers was certainly entitled to be informed of the existence of this highly unusual property, but the court finds there was sufficient evidence to support the trial court’s conclusion that Neal’s failure to report the purchase did not amount to intentional concealment, misrepresentation or fraud. OPINION:Morriss, C.J.

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