Anti-Concurrent Causation

Many commercial and residential property insurance claims arising from major hurricanes like Hurricane Harvey present damage caused by multiple causes of loss, some of which may be covered (e.g., wind) and some of which may not (e.g., flood). One of the recurrent legal issues in these multiple causes of loss claims is the treatment of anti-concurrent causation clauses under the applicable state law.

The Texas Supreme Court addressed the enforceability of an anti-concurrent causation clause for the first (and to date, only) time in JAW the Pointe, LLC v. Lexington Ins. Co., 460 S.W.3d 597 (Tex. 2015) (“JAW”). The anti-concurrent clause at issue in that case provided that: “We will not pay for loss or damage caused directly or indirectly by any of the following. Such loss or damage is excluded regardless of any other cause or event that contributes concurrently or in any sequence to the loss.” JAW, 460 S.W.3d at 604 (emphasis added).
Continue Reading Hurricane Harvey, the Texas Supreme Court, and Anti-Concurrent Causation

Frequent readers of the blog will appreciate that disputes involving the application of anti-concurrent causation language in the context of claims for flood or water damage have appeared with some frequency in recent years. This increased level of cases is due in large part to the damage caused by Hurricane Irene in 2011 and Hurricane Sandy in 2012. One frequently-litigated issue concerns what, if any, coverage is available under a policy with anti-concurrent causation language when a single indivisible loss is caused by a covered peril and an excluded peril. Recent decisions in New Jersey suggest a solid consensus that such a claim is not covered.
Continue Reading New Jersey Appellate Division Applies Anti-Concurrent Causation Clause to Bar Combined Flood/Sewer Backup Claim

We have discussed on a number of occasions the issue of causation when there are multiple causes of loss, some covered and some not covered. Most jurisdictions apply what is known as the efficient proximate cause analysis with a minority of jurisdictions applying the concurrent causation analysis, both of which are explained on our blog here. The Florida Supreme Court issued a decision last week applying the concurrent causation theory in a case where the court concluded it was not clear which of the causes of loss was the predominant cause. Sebo v. American Home Assurance Co., Docket SC14-897 (Dec. 1, 2016).

In Sebo, the insured’s residence suffered water damage during rainstorms shortly after he bought the home. Water intrusion (a covered loss) occurred following defective construction (excluded loss). AHAC denied coverage for all but mold damages, which was subject to a $50,000 limit. Sebo filed suit against, among others, the architect who designed the home and the contractor who built the home claiming negligent design and construction. A jury found in favor of the insured, and the trial court entered judgment against AHAC for more than $8 million.


Continue Reading Competing Causes of Loss: Florida Supreme Court Issues Decision Applying The Concurrent Causation Doctrine

As we have written about before on this blog, the water damage caused by Hurricane Sandy in October 2012 gave rise to important questions concerning the applicability of so-called “anti-concurrent causation” clauses. Such was the case in the recently-decided matter of Carevel, LLC v. Aspen American Ins. Co., 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 157919 (D.N.J. Nov. 15, 2016).

In Carevel, the insured’s building in Jersey City, New Jersey suffered interior water damage during Hurricane Sandy. The relevant insurance policy excluded damage caused by flood. The flood exclusion included an anti-concurrent causation preamble with the familiar language excluding flood damage “regardless of any other cause or event that contributes concurrently or in any sequence to the loss.” Importantly for the legal issues raised in this case, the policy did cover, via endorsement, damage caused by water that backed up through sewers or drains. Following an investigation into the loss, Aspen obtained a report indicating that the interior water damage was caused by street-level flooding that had infiltrated the building during the storm. Aspen denied the claim based on the flood exclusion. The insured filed suit, claiming that the damage was caused by water that had entered the building through the basement’s sewers or drains.
Continue Reading Hurricane Sandy, Flood, and Sewer Backup: New Jersey Federal Court Confirms Anti-Concurrent Causation Bars Insured’s Claim

Readers of this blog may note that we have previously discussed the topic of anti-concurrent causation clauses in various jurisdictions around the country (see here, here, and here). As a quick reminder, an anti-concurrent causation clause is that prefatory language that precedes a list of excluded perils, and that generally provides that

In insurance fraud cases involving actual or alleged destruction of evidence by the insured, an issue often arises regarding whether an adverse inference instruction is appropriate, and, if so, what form it should take. The Second Circuit recently approved a “light” form of adverse inference instruction that allowed the jury to make an adverse inference

Significant attention has been given in the media to the New York Assembly’s recent passage of several bills, apparently motivated by Storm Sandy, that would impact property insurance claim handling and litigation. None of these bills have been passed by the state senate yet, or signed by the governor. Some of them have been inaccurately

In Stor/Gard, Inc. v. Strathmore Ins. Co., No. 12-1650, 2013 U.S. App. LEXIS 11015 (1st Cir. May 31, 2013), the First Circuit rejected the notion that a 2% contribution to a loss could be a “cause” of the loss. Defendant Strathmore Insurance Company (“Strathmore”) insured Plaintiff SGI, which owned property with self-storage warehouses, and

Most states enforce anticoncurrent causation provisions, as we have described in our summary of such provisions. Recently, the Court of Appeals of the State of Oregon determined that a policy was ambiguous despite the fact that the insureds stipulated that collapse caused the damage, and the policy excluded loss caused by collapse with anticoncurrent

On November 6, the Consumer Federation of America sent a letter to elected officials in states affected by Hurricane Sandy in which it suggests that regulators should “block application” of anti-concurrent causation clauses:

A typical anti-concurrent causation (ACC) clause might read, “[w]e will not pay for loss or damage caused directly or indirectly by any