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Case Law Wednesdays - Homeowner's Insurance Loss Caused by Multiple Events


Although an insurance company issues an all risk policy, there are certain losses that an insurance policy does not extend coverage for. There are often situations that arise where multiple events cause a loss to a property and at least one of the events is excluded by the policy. When addressing whether an insurance company has to provide coverage for the loss in situations like this, Florida Courts rely on the efficient proximate cause and concurring cause doctrines.

When a chain of events leads to a cause of loss, an insurance company must provide coverage for the loss when the event that sets everything in motion is covered under the insurance policy. This is true even if there are events within the chain that are not covered under the policy. An insurance company must provide coverage as long as the main event that led to every other event and the ultimate loss is covered. This is true even if the subsequent events, that are not covered, were the reason that the loss occurred faster. This is called the efficient proximate cause.

On the other hand, there are situations where two events come together to cause the loss. When neither event could have caused the loss alone, but instead they needed each other to create the loss, Courts use the concurrent cause doctrine.

In Sebo v. American Home Assurance Company [1], the court applied the concurrent cause doctrine when an insured sued American Home Assurance Company because their property sustained water leaks and permanent structure issues that led to the destruction of the property. Here, the Court did not apply the efficient proximate cause doctrine because the rain and the construction defects came together to create the destruction, there was no specific event that led to the destruction. The Supreme Court reasoned that coverage will be provided even if one of the concurrent events that led to the loss is not covered by the insurance policy. Ultimately, the Supreme Court held that when the cause of loss is caused by weather events combined with the carelessness from a person, it seems logical and reasonable to find that the loss was covered by the insurance policy even if one of the causes was excluded from coverage.

An insurance company will most likely still have to provide coverage to a property loss even if a number of events led to the ultimate loss. If you have sustained a loss to your property, schedule a consultation with the experienced attorneys at Alvarez Law Group today. Call us at (786) 620-2820 or email assistant@alvarez.legal to schedule a consultation.

*Disclaimer: this blog post is not intended to be legal advice. *

[1] John Robert Sebo v. American Home Assurance Company, Inc., No. SC14-897 (Fla. December 1, 2016).

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