"Insurance policies are of course written documents, dependent upon standard conventions of grammar and usage in order to establish their meaning. A recent unpublished opinion from the Ninth Circuit wrestled with the grammar rules involved when an insurance application’s question and answer created a double negative.

Even though a literal reading of the application question using the relevant grammar rules arguably establishes the applicant answered the question truthfully, a majority held that the overall context of the question established that the applicant did not answer the question truthfully, and therefore that the insurer was entitled to rescind the policy based on the application misrepresentation.

The dissent disagreed, contending that in light of the application question’s actual wording, the applicant had completed the question truthfully, and therefore that the insurer was not entitled to rescission. The Ninth Circuit’s January 2, 2018 opinion in the case can be found here."