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Absent Policy Definition, Term Is Open to Interpretation

Summary: Named perils property policies, such as the homeowners HO 00 02 10 00 and, HO 00 03 10 00 that include vandalism coverage generally insure for direct physical loss to the described property caused by vandalism or malicious mischief. There is no further policy definition of vandalism or malicious mischief.

Topics covered: Definition of vandalismVandalism loss scenariosReasons for broad interpretation

Definition of Vandalism

Unlike the commercial property causes of loss forms, which define vandalism as “willful and malicious damage to, or destruction of, the described property,” vandalism and malicious mischief are not defined terms in the ISO homeowners forms. Therefore, the form is open to misunderstanding between insureds and insurers.

Absent a policy definition of vandalism, the common ordinary dictionary meaning of the word is used. According to Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 10th ed., vandalism is “the willful or malicious destruction or defacement of public or private property.” Black’s Law Dictionary defines vandalism as “such willful or malicious acts as are intended to damage or destroy property.”

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