Insurance Law Section
When is a Breach Not a Breach?
by Tarron L. Gartner

Greene v. Farmers Ins. Exch. and the SCOT’s Continuing Debate over the Material Breach Rule

Co-author: Whitney Warren

Last summer, the Texas Supreme Court’s decision in Greene v. Farmers Ins. Exchange, probably left most of us scratching our heads.  In Greene, the Court reached the surprising conclusion – at odds with the Court’s prior rulings – that the vacancy clause of a Texas homeowners policy is not “breached” by the insured’s failure to occupy the residence premises, because it does not confer an obligation upon the insured to occupy the property, but merely defines the scope of what the policy insures.  Therefore, concluded the Court, neither the anti-technicality statute nor the material-breach rule prohibit an insurer from denying coverage for a loss that occurs while the property is vacant, even if the vacancy did not contribute in any way to the loss. 

Factual Summary

The insured, LaWayne Greene, insured her house through Farmers Insurance Exchange under a Texas Homeowners-A Policy (HOA) form, endorsed by TDI, effective from February 10, 2007 to February 10, 2008. Greene moved out of her residence o...(Continue)

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