The phrase “deliberate acts” is found in many policies, particularly in public liability insurance. However, it is often important to know exactly how this applies in practice.
As a recent Supreme Court case will attest, liability is a somewhat complex part of an insurance policy and the more that is understood about what liability is and what insurance policies cover, the better.
Liability, put as simply as possible, is the person or business who is held to be legally responsible for an event or action, and therefore must face the consequences of these actions.
The most basic examples of these are the responsibility if a product causes illness or injury (product liability), responsibility for the safety of employees (worker’s compensation and/or employment practices liability), and injuries that take place on/in a place of business (public liability).
The latter example is one of the broadest types of insurance and can vary wildly depending on the type of business, whether it is public-facing, serves alcohol and other factors.
Generally, exceptions to public liability insurance are covered by other insurance types, such as property damage and employee liability. However, one key clause that is almost always exempt from liability insurance is deliberate acts.
Deliberate acts is a phrase that appears to be simple; any act intentionally undertaken by a business that they become liable for is not covered. However, it is not always that simple.
There are cases where a person or business’s inaction makes them liable, such as continuing work when it could put a bystander in danger, but this also has to be willful and deliberate.
Recklessness was not enough to constitute a deliberate act, even if this would have been the case for criminal ordinary liability.