Hoff v. Minnesota Mut. Fire and Cas – Case Brief Summary (North Dakota)

In Hoff v. Minnesota Mut. Fire and Cas. (N.D. 1986) 398 N.W.2d 123, the plaintiff owned a condominium in North Dakota, insured under a homeowner's policy issued by defendant.

Plaintiff was also renting a lake cottage in Minnesota for the summer. He split his time between the cottage and the condominium.

Sometime during the period plaintiff was staying at the condominium a thief entered the cottage and stole some of plaintiff's property. Plaintiff filed a claim with defendant under his homeowner's policy. The policy covered theft from his condominium, the "residence premises," but excluded theft "while at any other residence owned, rented to, or occupied by any insured except while any insured is temporarily residing there . . . ." (Id. at p. 125.)

The defendant denied coverage on the ground that the plaintiff was not temporarily residing at the cottage when the theft occurred. The state supreme court agreed with the defendant's interpretation.

The court held that the term "temporarily residing" in the context of the policy exclusion was plain and unambiguous. It meant that on days when plaintiff was staying at his vacation cottage "he was indemnified by his homeowner's insurance policy since during those periods plaintiff was 'temporarily residing' there. (Ibid.)

At the time of the theft, however, plaintiff was residing in his condominium therefore "he could not have been 'temporarily residing' at the cottage and was not protected by the provisions of his insurance policy." (Id. at p. 126.)

Under Hoff, an insured who acquires the right to the use of a vacation location over a several month period is "temporarily residing" at that location whenever the insured is staying there.