Business Pursuits Exclusion in New York

New York law defines a "business pursuit" as an activity regularly engaged in with a view toward earning a livelihood or making a profit. In other words, to constitute a business pursuit, there must be two elements: "first, continuity, and secondly, the profit motive." Showler v. Am. Mfrs. Mut. Ins. Co., 261 A.D.2d 896, 897 (N.Y App. Div. 1999). CMLP has identified no New York cases interpreting this test in the context of online publishing out of the home (or elsewhere).

As a general matter, however, the New York courts include nearly all profit-making activities carried out on a regular basis in the category of business pursuits. The activity does not need to be the insured's sole occupation or means of support, but it must be more than merely sporadic or occasional.

Therefore, if you live in New York, you may be in danger of losing coverage for your online publishing activities if you make money from your website or blog, such as through advertisements or a tip jar, unless those activities are temporary or sporadic.

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


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