“Occurrence” has been defined in generally consistent terms in all editions of the CGL, with the current definition being: "an accident, including continuous or repeated exposure to substantially the same general harmful conditions." “Occurrence” has been defined in generally consistent terms in all editions of the CGL, with the current definition being: “an accident, including continuous or repeated exposure to substantially the same general harmful conditions.” (Photo: aleksander29/Adobe Stock)

Going as far back as the 1973 policy’s insuring agreement, the insurer pledges to pay on behalf of the insured all sums the insured becomes legally obligated to pay as damages because of bodily injury or property damage caused by an “occurrence.” The current CGL form employs simplified language to promise: “We will pay those sums that the insured becomes legally obligated to pay as damages because of bodily injury or property damage…This insurance applies to bodily injury and property damage only if the bodily injury or property damage is caused by an occurrence…” Even the claims-made policy requires that bodily injury or property damage be caused by an occurrence.

“Occurrence” has been defined in generally consistent terms in all editions of the CGL, with the current definition being: “an accident, including continuous or repeated exposure to substantially the same general harmful conditions.” The provision requiring damage to be neither expected nor intended is contained in exclusion 2.a.: This insurance does not apply to bodily injury or property damage expected or intended from the standpoint of the insured. The standpoint of the insured is the key. If an event happens that is accidental, neither expected nor intended by the insured, that is an occurrence. In other words, the existence of an occurrence hinges on how the insured, not the insurer or others, views things.


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