There has been some further activity to report in the flood non-owned debris, boat in my front yard case. This topic peaked my interest in the wake of Super Storm Sandy, and is my fourth update on the case. Often there will be debris scattered all around people’s yards following a flood event, especially one as significant as Sandy. On March 26, 2015, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit held that the Standard Flood Insurance Policy does not cover the expense of removing non-owned debris in the policyholder’s lot or any land outside the perimeter walls of the structure.1
The policyholder filed a Petition for Rehearing with the appeals court on April 8, 2015. In the Petition for Rehearing, the policyholder acknowledges that rehearings are not favored, and that they “have not lightly undertaken the petition. . . .[t]hey believe the results have dramatic effect because of the number of pending claims and lawsuits arising from Super Storm Sandy.”
They are requesting the court to reconsider whether “insured property” in the policy means just the “building.” They assert that they are not claiming damage to the land, but rather are claiming the cost of debris removal from their property. The policyholders request the court reconsider the analysis into the flood adjuster’s claims manual discussed in the opinion, pointing out the claims manual is just a guide and does not change terms of the policy. Recall that part of the Standard Flood Insurance Policy states:
We will pay the expense to remove non-owned debris on or in insured property and owned debris anywhere
We will continue to monitor the case and provide an update as it progresses.
1 Torre, v. Liberty Mutual Fire Ins. Co., No. 14-2733 (3rd Cir. March 26, 2015).