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Azze v. Hanover Insurance Co.

January 30, 2001

JOSEPH B. AZZE AND MAUREEN P. AZZE,
PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS/CROSS-RESPONDENTS,
V.
HANOVER INSURANCE CO., A CORPORATION OF THE STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE,
DEFENDANT-RESPONDENT/CROSS-APPELLANT.



On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Middlesex County, L-10292-97.

Before Judges Newman, Braithwaite and Wells.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Wells, J.A.D.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted: December 18, 2000

Plaintiffs Joseph and Maureen Azze appeal from summary judgment dismissing their claim against their homeowners carrier, defendant Hanover Insurance Co. The motion judge determined that the statute of limitations barred the Azzes' claim. Hanover cross- appeals from the judge's ruling that an electrically-heated waterbed is a "household appliance" within the meaning of the policy. We reverse the judgment dismissing the claim and affirm the determination with respect to the waterbed. The facts gleaned from the moving and opposing papers submitted to the motion judge are:

In 1995, the Azzes purchased a homeowner's insurance policy from defendant, Hanover Insurance Company. The policy covered the time period between midnight, August 1, 1995, and midnight, August 1, 1996. The policy covered the following six types of loss: (A) Dwelling; (B) Other Structures; (C) Personal Property; (D) Loss of Use; (E) Personal Liability; and (F) Medical Payments to Others. The policy was accompanied by a "Homeowner's Policy Reference Guide," which explained the terms of the Azzes' insurance coverage. The reference guide made the following statement with regard to coverage for loss to personal property:

We insure for direct physical loss to the property described in Coverages A and C caused by a peril listed below unless the loss is excluded in Section I - Exclusions.

1. Fire or lightning.

2. Windstorm or hail.

....

3. Explosion.

4. Riot or civil commotion.

5. Aircraft, including self-propelled missiles from spacecraft.

6. Vehicles.

7. Smoke, meaning sudden and accidental damage from smoke.

....

8. Vandalism or malicious mischief.

9. Theft, including attempted theft and loss of property from a known place when it is likely that the property has been stolen.

....

10. Falling objects.

....

11. Weight of ice, snow or sleet which causes damage to the inside of a building or property

....

12. Accidental discharge or overflow of water or steam from within a plumbing, heating, air conditioning or automatic fire protective sprinkler system or from within a household appliance.

The "Definitions" section of the homeowner's policy reference guide did not include a definition of the ...


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