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Concurrent Causation in Property Insurance Disputes

Thu Jan 10th, 2019 on     Property Insurance,    

Miami Property Insurance Lawyer

In Florida, and elsewhere, property insurance policyholders frequently have their claims denied due to the existence of “concurrent causes” of loss.  A concurrent cause is one of multiple causes that contributed to the damages at-issue.  For example, if your house is damaged in a severe tropical storm, some of the losses may be due to water, and some due to wind.  The wind conditions and the water damage might each be reasonably defined as concurrent causes.

Property insurance policyholders (i.e., homeowners, real estate developers, condo associations, small and large businesses, and more) may be put into a vulnerable position if their insurer denies a legitimate property insurance claim or pays out only a portion of the claim on the basis that there are concurrent causation issues.

So, how might concurrent causation affect your own property insurance claims?  Let’s take a closer look.

Florida Applies the Concurrent Causation Doctrine

In Florida, the concurrent causation doctrine allows policyholders to recover for both covered and non-covered losses if they happen concurrently.  This prevents insurers from engaging in attempts to define some portion of your losses as non-covered (and therefore denying your claim on that basis), and only paying out the covered loss portion.

For example, suppose that your home is damaged in a fire.  As a result, your water lines are damaged, which causes leakage and further losses to your home.  Even if your policy excludes water damage, but covers fire damage, you would be entitled to recover benefits for both losses, as the causes were concurrent.  The losses to your home resulted from the concurrence of both fire and water damage.

Presence of an Anti-Concurrent Causation Clause

Some insurance policies include an anti-concurrent causation clause, which precludes coverage of specific losses in the event of an accident involving “concurrent causes.”  For example, an anti-concurrent causation clause might exclude losses due to fire, even when it occurs concurrently with some other cause.

In Florida, the courts generally enforce anti-concurrent causation clauses, though it’s important to understand that if your policy has an anti-concurrent causation clause, you could still challenge its application on the basis of ambiguity.  Many anti-concurrent causation clauses are not written in a way that is reasonably ascertainable and may be so ambiguous as to be unenforceable (or at least interpreted in a manner that is favorable to you).

Contact an Experienced Miami Property Insurance Lawyer for Immediate Assistance

Here at Ver Ploeg & Lumpkin, P.A., we provide assistance to a range of policyholders involved in complex commercial and residential property insurance disputes.

Our team of attorneys have decades of combined experience helping clients navigate the complications typical of such disputes and are willing and able to litigate the case all the way through to trial (if and when it is necessary).  This aggressive approach to litigation is an important facet of our representation — insurers must take your case seriously and may be ready to negotiate a fair settlement early on as opposed to dragging out the dispute.

Call 305-577-3996 or send us a message through our Contact Us page to schedule a free and confidential consultation with a skilled Miami property insurance lawyer at Ver Ploeg & Lumpkin, P.A.

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