Sometimes when marriages go sour and spouses can no longer get along with one another, one spouse whose emotions have taken over them might do something out of anger to harm the other spouse, such as deliberately setting fire to their home. So what happens to you ability to bring an insurance claim if your spouse deliberately sets fire to your home.
In Kulubis v. Texas Farm Bureau Undw’rs Ins. Co., 706 S.W.2d 953 (Tex. 1986), the Texas Supreme Court first recognized what is known as the innocent spouse exception to otherwise non-covered insurance claims. The innocent spouse doctrine usually involves cases of arson or other intentional destruction of property by one spouse and a claim for insurance coverage by the other who was unaware and did not participate in the conduct. In applying the innocent spouse doctrine courts usually hold that if the house and contents are owned equally by the husband and wife, then the innocent spouse would be entitled to the insurance proceeds covering one-half the property while the other culpable spouse would be denied any recovery.
In Kulubis, the court reasoned that the innocent spouse had a reasonable expectation of coverage, based on the policy terms, that would be defeated if his or her spouse’s conduct deprived that spouse of coverage. The facts of Kulubis were the husband destroyed the couple’s mobile home after his wife served him with divorce papers. The wife was not only innocent, she was the intended victim of his actions. The court stated that adopting the innocent spouse doctrine will best protect the insurance company from fraud while assuring that the insurance company will not be unjustly enriched. It will also permit an innocent victim whose property has been destroyed to collect under an insurance policy for a loss reasonably expected to be covered.