Business Pursuits Exclusion in Massachusetts

Massachusetts law defines "business pursuits" as incorporating "two significant elements: profit motive and continuity." Nationwide Mut. Ins. Co. v. Bent, 1999 WL 1203774 (Mass. Super. Nov. 9, 1999). CMLP has identified no Massachusetts cases interpreting this test in the context of online publishing out of the home (or elsewhere). One Massachusetts court has indicated in reasoning not essential to its judgment that the category of business pursuits embraces “[a]ny full or part time activity of any kind engaged in for economic gain." Metro. Prop. & Cas. Ins. v. Fitchburg, 793 N.E.2d 1252 (Mass. App. Ct. 2003).

Therefore, if you live in Massachusetts, you may be in danger of losing coverage for your online publishing activities if you make any money from your website or blog, such as through advertisements or a tip jar, unless those activities are temporary or sporadic. The law in Massachusetts is not clear on this point, however.

Note that specific language in a policy might lead a court to a result different from the overall state trend.


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