In order to succeed on a claim of negligence against an broker/agent for failing to procure insurance, a plaintiff must establish (1) a duty of care; (2) a breach of said duty of care; (3) injury caused by the breach; and (4) actual loss or damage resulting from the injury. Recently the Supreme Court of Wisconsin, in Emer’s Camper Corral, LLC v. Alderman, 391 Wis.2d 674 (2020), addressed the evidence a plaintiff must present under the third factor in order to establish causation.
Following a hailstorm, Camper Corral found out the insurance it had in place had a $5,000 per camper deductible with no aggregate limit. Camper Corral’s total deductible following the hailstorm was $125,000. Camper Corral filed suit against its broker/agent alleging it was negligent in failing to procure insurance with a $1,000 hail deductible per camper and a $5,000 aggregate deductible.
Alderman, the agent, argued that Camper Corral failed to establish there was a causal connection between Camper Corral’s damages and Alderman’s failure to procure the policy with the desired terms. Specifically, he argued there could be no causal connection unless Camper Corral had been eligible for the specific insurance policy requested.
The Wisconsin Supreme Court held that it was not enough for Camper Corral to establish that the policy it desired was “commercially available.” It articulated that just because an insurance company would write a specific policy for one company does not mean it would insure all companies under the same terms. The Wisconsin Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court’s decision to grant Alderman’s motion for directed verdict, concluding that without evidence that an insurer would have written the specific coverage for Camper Corral, it was unable to establish that the broker/agent’s negligence was a “substantial factor” in causing the loss.