A US supreme court held that an insurer does not have to defend or indemnify an exercise equipment store after its delivery workers dropped an exercise machine on a customer. The policy excluded events that occurred while loading or unloading property to the place of final delivery.

At the time the employees were trying to move the machine up a staircase to the second storey of a woman’s home after she purchased the machine. They lost control and it fell onto the customer who was seriously injured. The use clause excluded “loading or unloading.” In turn, “unloading” was defined to include the movement of the property from an auto to the place where it is finally delivered.

The use of the word “final” was held to be unambiguous. The insured had to pay its own damages of $1.2 million.

The judge in the lower court and one of three appeal judges found that the wording was ambiguous. It is important to state plainly what you intend, particularly in an exclusion clause.

[Landmark American v. VO Remarketing]