A Contract No One Reads: The Insurance Policy

 Thursday, January 30, 2020


The Merlin Law Group blog cites a small portion of a lengthy Hastings Law Journal article written by Professor Chuck Knapp. Dr. Knapp did not like the use, by appellate courts, of the concept that there is a duty to read (DTR) an insurance policy.

The blog post by the Merlin Law Group proposed that Dr. Knapp’s suggestions would allow the court to rewrite the terms and conditions of the policy.

Dr. Knapp did not do that but spent many pages explaining why the word "duty" should not be used and the exceptions available to the courts when interpreting an insurance contract as well as other contracts.

In my opinion, and that of a majority of the courts that have been called on to interpret an insurance policy, the person seeking insurance has an obligation to read the insurance contract or, at the very least, have a lawyer or insurance professional read, understand, and explain the policy to the person acquiring the insurance.

For the last 52 years, I have asked people making claims on an insurance policy whether they have read and understood their insurance policy. Most just laughed and claimed they never tried. Two, in my career, answered "yes."
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