Reside With Legal Definition In Insurance Policy

On several occasions this court interpreted automobile insurance policies that include or exclude coverage for parties who "reside with" or are a "resident of the household" of the insured.

See e.g Midwest Mutual Insurance Co. v. Titus, 849 P.2d 908, 910 (Colo. App. 1993)("factors include the subjective or declared intent of the individual, the relation between the individual and the members of the household, the existence of a second place of lodging, and the relative permanence or transient nature of the individual's residence in the household").

Insurance policies are contracts and an interpretation thereof is a matter of law which this court reviews de novo. An insurance policy must be construed in favor of coverage, and against limitations, when provisions within the policy are ambiguous. Bohrer v. Church Mutual Insurance Co., 965 P.2d 1258 (Colo. 1998)(ambiguous exclusionary clauses that insulate certain conduct are to be interpreted against defeat of the coverage).

"Living with" can reasonably be defined to mean a bodily presence, or to lodge or dwell, in someone else's home (e.g., residence). It can also reasonably mean to lodge or dwell in another person's home on a permanent basis (e.g., domicile). Since the phrase is susceptible to more than one reasonable definition, we conclude that the phrase is ambiguous. See State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co. v. Stein, 940 P.2d 384 (Colo. 1997).

Because ambiguities in the insurance policy must be construed against its drafter, State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co. v. McMillan, 925 P.2d 785 (Colo. 1996), we must construe the phrase "living with" against State Farm. We therefore conclude that the phrase "living with" in the policy exclusion at issue means intent to dwell or lodge with another person, on a permanent basis and for the foreseeable future.