Voluntary Intoxication: A Defense to Intentional Injury Exclusion Clauses in Homeowner’s Policies?
This Note argues that the current voluntary intoxication defense to the intentional injury exclusion clause should be modified to allow insurers subrogation rights against insureds who commit intentional acts while voluntarily intoxicated, subject to an exception for alcoholic insureds who successfully complete alcohol treatment programs. Part I discusses the public policy concerns of victim compensation and deterrence and how they influence courts deciding between the three traditional approaches to “intent.” Part II analyzes the impact of these intent standards on courts’ decisions to allow a voluntary intoxication defense and concludes that the defense as currently formulated promotes victim compensation at the expense of deterrence. Part III argues that public policy considerations mandate an exception to the general rule that insurers cannot bring subrogation actions against their own insureds for intentional acts committed when voluntarily intoxicated. These considerations also favor limitations on subrogation to encourage alcohol-abuse treatment. This Note concludes that allowing insurers to bring subrogation actions, subject to an exception for alcoholic insureds who successfully complete alcohol rehabilitation programs, best accommodates the conflicting public policy goals of victim compensation and deterrence.