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Vol. 7, Iss. 1
January 31, 2018

Damaged Pizza: Domino’s Carryout Insurance Program

Domino’s has gotten into the insurance business. Really. The pizza giant is now offering Carryout Insurance. This means that the company will replace a carryout customer’s pizza that is damaged. I know. I’m sleeping better too.

Of course, you may know this already from the company’s television commercials touting its new program. In one, a man pulls into his driveway. And just as he exits his car a large tree falls and crushes it. Cut to a close-up of his panicked face as he realizes that the pizza inside his car may have been ruined. He retrieves the pizza. It is unscathed and he breathes a sigh of relief. But then, as he’s going into his house, he slips on his icy walkway. The pizza goes flying and lands on his lawn. In another spot, a Domino’s carryout customer places his pizza on the roof of his car while talking on his phone. You know this is coming -- he forgets it is there and pulls away. The pizza box takes a tumble and lands in the parking lot.

There are some terms and conditions that govern the Ann Arbor pizza behemoth’s replacement obligations. This is, after all, insurance. The fine print on the company’s website states: “Domino’s Carryout Insurance program is only available to carryout customers who return their damaged order, uneaten, in its original packaging (inclusive of an order label or receipt) to the store from which it was originally purchased within at least two hours of the time of purchase. Damaged orders will be replaced with identical products and no substitutions will be permitted. This is a limited time offer and store participation may vary.”

[Incidentally, I learned from the Domino’s website that you can register for pizza for your wedding gifts. I thought – Wow, how silly. Then I wondered the last time we used that Cuisinart.]

I reached out to the head flack for Domino’s and asked for some stories of customers who suffered an unfortunate pizza mishap and made a claim for a replacement. Also, I was curious about any claims that had been denied. The company did not reply to CO’s request for comment.

Domino’s Carryout Insurance sounds simple enough. But, of course, everything is simple…until you give it to a lawyer. The terms and conditions of Domino’s Carryout Insurance are fewer than a hundred words. In my hands they would have been seven pages, not counting endorsements for bread sticks. There are many scenarios that are not addressed in Domino’s terms and conditions. Here are some issues that could complicate Domino’s Carryout Insurance claims:

  • If a person drops a pizza in their kitchen, and makes a claim with Domino’s, as well as under the personal property section of their homeowner’s policy, which insurance provides primary coverage?

  • If a person slips on a neighbor’s icy sidewalk and drops their pizza, will Domino’s bring a subrogation claim against the neighbor’s homeowner’s insurer to recover the cost of the replacement?

  • If a damaged pizza is not returned within two hours of the time of purchase, is Domino’s required to prove that it was prejudiced by the notice provision? [Interesting question under Michigan’s varied “late notice” law.]

  • Consider a pizza that is dropped and six slices are damaged and two are not. If the customer eats the two undamaged slices, and seeks replacement of six, would a disclaimer by Domino’s, on the basis of the “not uneaten” exclusion, be impermissible on public policy grounds, as it penalizes the customer for mitigating its damages?

  • If someone takes a sharp turn in their car and the cheese slides off their pizza, but stays in the box, is the pizza considered “damaged?”

  • If someone eats one slice more than they should, is this slice considered “damaged,” based on a “loss of use” theory as it pertains to the others sharing the pie?

  • If a customer gets stuck at a railroad crossing for twenty minutes, and pizza rigor mortis sets in by the time he or she gets home, is the pizza considered damaged? [More generally, does “damage” require physical upset?]

  • During the drive home a customer’s three year old adds crayons as a pizza topping. Does the “no substitutions” rule mean that the replacement pizza must also have crayons on it?

  • Does Domino’s replace the entire pizza or hold back one slice as a deductible?

I could have written better terms and conditions for Domino’s Carryout Insurance. And you know what they say: Better terms and conditions. Better pizza.
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