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Johnson v. Allstate Insurance Co.

March 24, 1997

DONNA JOHNSON, APPELLANT,
v.
ALLSTATE INSURANCE COMPANY, AN ILLINOIS CORPORATION, RESPONDENT.



Appeal from Superior Court of King County. Docket No: 94-2-29307-9. Date filed: 01/05/96. Judge signing: Hon. Sally Pasette.

PER CURIAM. Donna Johnson appeals an order of summary judgment dismissing her cause of action against Allstate Insurance Company. She contends summary judgment was improper because her Allstate policy covered losses occurring during the policy period, and it was undisputed that she discovered her loss during the policy period. Because coverage under Johnson's policy was triggered only if the event insured against occurred during the policy period, we affirm.

FACTS

In January 1985, Johnson left her Hawaii residence and returned to her hometown in Iowa. Several weeks later, she asked her roommate in Hawaii to put all her belongings in storage. According to Johnson, the roommate rented a storage unit, moved Johnson's belongings into it, and mailed Johnson the keys.

In February 1985, Johnson asked a friend who was traveling to Hawaii to check on the storage unit. The friend said "everything was there" and "the unit was full of boxes to the top." The keys were again returned to Johnson.

Shortly thereafter, Johnson requested that a second lock be placed on the storage unit. The storage unit company put the second lock on the unit and kept the key.

In 1990, Peggy Franks became the manager of the storage unit property. At that time, Johnson's unit still had two padlocks on the door. The unit showed no signs of forced entry. The records of the storage unit company showed no visits to Johnson's unit between 1990 and November 18, 1993.

In February 1992, Allstate issued Johnson a homeowner's policy providing personal property coverage. The policy stated that it applied "only to losses which occur during the policy period...." *fn1

On November 17, 1993, Johnson made her first visit to her storage unit. Her belongings were not in the unit. Instead, she found empty boxes containing paper and things that did not belong to her. Johnson called Allstate the next day to report the loss. She also called the police. Another day went by before she contacted the manager of the storage facility and informed her of the loss.

Johnson subsequently gave statements to Allstate and the Honolulu Police. Allstate denied coverage for Johnson's claim.

In November 1994, Johnson filed the instant action asserting various claims against Allstate, including bad faith, breach of contract, negligence, tort of outrage, and violations of several regulations and statutes. Allstate moved for summary judgment on the ground that there was no proof that the theft occurred during the policy period. The trial court granted the motion. Johnson appeals.

DECISION

The sole question on review is whether the trial court erred in granting Allstate's motion for summary judgment. Johnson contends summary judgment was improper because her homeowner's policy provided coverage for any loss occurring during the policy period, and it is undisputed that she discovered the loss during the policy period. She concludes that "the court can not determine that the plaintiff[']s loss took place at any time other than when it was discovered...." We disagree.

Johnson's homeowner's policy is an "occurrence" policy applying only to "losses which occur during the policy period...." Although the word "loss" is not defined in the policy, its meaning is plain. The policy repeatedly refers to "loss to the property", and in the "theft" section speaks of "loss of property from a known place...." Thus, the word "loss" means damage, injury, or deprivation, not the discovery of the same. Under the policy's "occurrence" language, the deprivation she insured against had to occur during the policy period before coverage was triggered. *fn2 The fact that Johnson discovered her loss during the policy period did not trigger coverage and did not preclude summary judgment.

The cases cited by Johnson do not support her position. *fn3 They involve liability "occurrence" policies providing coverage for liability arising out the insured's wrongful acts. The cases hold only that coverage under such policies is not determined by whether the wrongful act occurred during the policy period; rather, it is determined by whether the claimant's injury or damage ...


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