As you read your homeowner's insurance policy one thing that you will inevitably encounter are terms referencing other terms, referencing definitions, referencing back to other terms (never mind all of the exclusions). It can be maddening. A logical next question is whether these definitions are there to exclude coverage, or simply to define coverage. While our previous discussion about exclusions should give you some peace of mind that anything not specifically excluded should be covered under Ohio law, courts are instructed to read policies in their entirety, and not to ignore one part of a policy to the benefit of another.1 Courts must "give meaning to every paragraph, clause, phrase and word."2
We recently represented a hard-working single father with no criminal record who is thirty-seven years old. His girlfriend told him that she would accuse him of domestic violence if he ended the relationship. When he ended the relationship, she followed through with her threat and called 911. She told the arresting officer he hit her a few times in the back of the head and pulled her hair. Our client denied harming her or any woman. Even though the officer noted in the complaint that he did not observe any injuries, he felt as though he had probable cause to charge and arrest our client and charge him with first degree misdemeanor domestic violence based solely upon the ex-girlfriend's statements.
For the second time this year, Ohio has expanded its Intervention in Lieu of Conviction ("ILC") statute, once again benefitting defendants across the State. Effective on October 29, 2018, the new ILC statute gives a person countless opportunities to enroll in ILC. In other words, even if a person has previously been given an opportunity for ILC, the court now has the discretion to permit a defendant to enroll into the program again.
Reading your homeowner's insurance policy can be a daunting task. The policies often feel intentionally designed to get you not to read them. One reason might be so that you do not realize all the occurrences that happen in your daily life that may be covered. This primer is designed to go over some basics of reading your policy and ensure that you start maximizing the value that you get for diligently paying premiums.