In insurance coverage declaratory relief actions, there are times an insured will argue that the insurance policy coverage is illusory. Typically, an insured will raise this illusory argument if its insurer is denying coverage based on an exclusion or limitation in the policy. If a court agrees and deems the coverage illusory, the court will construe the policy to afford coverage to the insured. This is the obvious value of the argument: coverage!
“A policy is illusory only if there is an internal contradiction that completely negates the coverage it expresses to provide.” The Warwick Corp. v. Turetsky, 42 Fla.L.Weekly D1797a (Fla. 4th DCA 2017). Thus, if a policy grants coverage in one section but then excludes the same coverage in another section, the coverage would be deemed illusory. Id. quoting Tire Kingdom, Inc. v. First S. Ins. Co., 573 So.2d 885, 887 (Fla. 3d DCA 1990). An illusory policy was found in the following examples: (a) a policy covered certain intentional torts but then excluded intended acts; (b) a policy covered advertising injury but elsewhere excluded advertising injury; and (c) a policy covered parasailing but excluded watercrafts. Id. (citations omitted). In all examples, coverage in the policy was completely swallowed up by an exclusion rendering the coverage illusory. Stated differently, coverage was completely contradicted by an exclusion in the policy rendering the policy absurd.