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Insurers' anti-concurrent causation clauses create controversy p3

If things happen in threes, and your homeowners insurance policy has an anti-concurrent causation clause in it, you had better hope all three of those things are covered. If not, your insurer will deny the claim. Homeowners hit by Superstorm Sandy learned this lesson the hard way, and state legislatures and regulators are looking into how to rein in insurers' vigorous enforcement of ACC clauses.

Florida is not one of those states -- yet. Lawmakers here may be too focused on rethinking Citizens Property Insurance Corp. to pay attention, or homeowners have not complained about ACC clauses. Still, Florida homeowners should know that ACC clauses are valid and enforceable here.

In personal injury and property damage lawsuits, causation is everything. Bob hits Judy with his car, so Bob is at fault, right? But what if Joe pushed Judy in front of the car? Bob's car caused the injuries, but Judy would not have been in the road if Joe hadn't pushed her. Who is at fault? Bob is the actual cause, but Joe is the proximate cause, so which is the appropriate defendant? Or which is more to blame than the other? Law students spend weeks on causation and move from there to joint and several liability. 

Insurance companies do the same kind of analysis when considering claims. They look at what caused the damage, if that was the only cause or if that was just one of the causes, and, because they are insurance companies, they look for ways to deny coverage. That's what the exclusions section is about; many of the exclusions are risks that the insurer has decided are either too difficult to find the cause of or are too costly to cover.

What does all this have to do with ACC clauses? We'll get into that in our next post.

Source: International Risk Management Institute Inc., Glossary of Insurance & Risk Management Terms, "Anti-concurrent cause (ACC) language," accessed online May 31, 2013