Big Box Retailer Piggybacks on Customer’s Personal Auto Policy

In Menard, Inc. v. Country Preferred Insurance Company, 2013 IL App (3d) 120340 [enhanced version available to lexis.com subscribers], the Illinois Appellate Court held that Menards was entitled to coverage under its customer’s personal automobile policy for the personal injury claims the customer suffered while her car was being loaded at the Menards loading dock. A true example of how knowing the basics of insurance policy coverage can be used by the rich and powerful to tap insurance of the unsuspecting.

Everyday occurrence at Menards. Customer buys bricks. She looks for good bricks from a stack, then places them within reach of the Menards employee to load into her car. While her car was being loaded, customer’s foot became tangled in debris on the loading dock and she fell. She sues Menards for negligence in maintaining safe premises. So far, pretty standard.

Enter the coverage lawyer who knows that all auto policies include coverage for accidents “resulting from the ownership, maintenance or use of an insured vehicle, including loading and unloading.” All auto policies also include omnibus insured coverage for “anyone using an insured vehicle with permission.” Menards tenders its defense of the customer’s suit to the customer’s auto insurer, court finds that the accident was causally connected to the use of the vehicle, the other insurance provision does not apply, and Bob’s your uncle, Menards is defended by the customer’s own auto policy.

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