Kenneth S. Abraham

A Theory of Insurance Policy Interpretation

Michigan Law Review

UVA Law Faculty Affiliations


In this article I analyze and explain how the courts actually employ contra proferentem and its allied doctrines in interpreting insurance policies by uncovering the factors that I believe most influence the process of interpretation. This effort exposes some of the difficulties that the courts have encountered in employing contra proferentem as the doctrine has evolved. I suggest, further, that the rise of the allied doctrines creating rights at variance with policy provisions at least in part reflects the courts' effort to grapple directly with the problems that they have been able to address only incompletely and indirectly under the rubric of contra proferentem. So conceived the allied doctrines are not, strictly speaking, a feature of the interpretive process, but a consequence of that process.


Kenneth S. Abraham, A Theory of Insurance Policy Interpretation, 95 Michigan Law Review 531-569 (1996).

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