Florida Appellate Court Affirms Holding that Arson Constitutes Vandalism

An incendiary fire destroyed a home that had been vacant for more than thirty days. The carrier denied the claim under the policy’s vacancy exclusion that excluded damage caused by vandalism and malicious mischief. The policyholder argued that while one could argue that arson constitutes vandalism, since vacancy was not defined by the policy, the exclusion should be considered ambiguous. The 5th District Court of Appeals in Florida disagreed and affirmed the trial court’s ruling that the plain meaning of vandalism included intentionally set fires. Botee v. Southern Fidelity (Feb. 6, 2015, Fla. 5th Dist.).