Beedle v. Wisconsin Mutual Insurance Co. (Insurance Policy Business Exclusion)

In Beedle v. Wisconsin Mutual Insurance Co. (2018AP2147), the Court of Appeals District IV held that an insurance policy’s business exclusion applied when the insured was engaging in a side job, barring coverage for an injury caused by the insured’s negligence on the job.

Plaintiff Jacob Beedle was injured while helping the insured construct a pole barn. Beedle filed this lawsuit against the insured and his insurer IMT Insurance Co., alleging the insured’s negligence caused Beedle’s injury. The insured’s homeowner’s policy included an exclusion for losses from business, defining business as “a trade, profession, or occupation engaged in on a full-time, part-time, or occasional basis.”

The insured was primarily employed by a company that constructs pole barns, but the project where Beedle was injured was a side job outside of the insured’s primary employment. The issue in this case was whether the side job constituted “business” under the IMT policy, barring coverage for Beedle’s injuries.

The court found that the insured’s work on the side job was unambiguously a “trade” that he engaged in on an “occasional basis.” Using the “continuity-profit motive” test established in Bertler v. Employer Ins. of Wausau (1978), the court found that the side job was a continuation of the insured’s primary employment constructing pole barns. The court found the insured had a profit motive because he was ultimately paid $3,000 for work on the side job. By meeting both the continuity and profit motive standards, the side job would have fallen under the policy’s business exclusion according to Bertler.

The court rejected Beedle’s argument that the side job would not fall under the business exclusion because it was not the insured’s primary employment. Therefore, the policy’s business exclusion applied, barring coverage for Beedle’s injuries.