In a recent case, Sullivan v. Nationwide Affinity Insurance Company,1 the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a trial court’s decision finding a policy’s earth movement exclusion barred coverage for damage caused by rockfalls. On Monday, the three-judge panel found the policy’s earth movement exclusion is not limited to damage caused by soil movement, but also included rocks, concluding a “rockfall” is a type of “landslide.”
Continue Reading Rockfall Damage Not a Landslide Victory

This weekend, I was binging on the Netflix show “The Defenders.” In one of the first episodes, an earthquake hits New York City and a character comments: “Not a lot of people have earthquake insurance up here.” This got me thinking about endorsements to policies, and how likely is it that an earthquake large enough to cause property damage will hit the tri-state area?
Continue Reading Earthquake Insurance in Areas Where Earthquakes Are Not Common

As everyone watching the news knows, there were horrific mudslides in Santa Barbara County this week caused by flash flooding in the fire-scarred Santa Ynez Mountains. Due to the fires that have ravaged Southern California in the past month, the scorched earth—lacking shrubs that can absorb water—is especially susceptible to mudslide when there is a heavy rain.
Continue Reading Mudslide in California—Are You Covered?

Many insurance policies specifically exclude earth movement and if the facts permit, the insurance company may raise this exclusion when a claim is asserted. This issue is currently being litigated in Superstorm Sandy cases in both New York and New Jersey. A recent Eastern District of New York federal court decision discussed the earth movement exclusion in a case involving an auto parts company warehouse in New York which sustained significant damage when a portion of the concrete floor collapsed.1 The auto parts company had stored steel racks with auto parts that weighed about 2 to 3 tons. Therefore, when the loss occurred, the policyholder asserted that the loss was covered under the policy provision which covered damage from a collapse caused by the “weight of people or personal property.”

Continue Reading New York Federal Court Upholds Earth Movement Exclusion Where Soil Settlement Contributes to Collapse

A new case was recently handed down regarding earth movement and water damage exclusions. In Wagner v. American Family Mutual Insurance Company,1 a policyholder suspected a water leak in her home. She had her property inspected and found a water pipe was leaking under the slab foundation, eroding the soil beneath her home and causing settlement, cracking of the slab, drywall, and flooring panels. She filed a timely claim with her insurance company and they agreed there was damage, but within two weeks denied her claim.

Continue Reading I Feel The Earth Move Under My Feet…And That May Not Be A Covered Loss In Colorado

Governor Cuomo recently announced that Superstorm Sandy, Hurricane Irene, and Tropical Storm Lee  victims who have been denied coverage on their flood claims based on a controversial FEMA regulation, will be fully compensated through the New York State Housing Recovery Program.1 This is good news for the hundreds of Sandy victims whose coverage was either partially or entirely denied based on a technicality in their flood policies.

Continue Reading Governor Cuomo Announces Plan to Compensate Victims of Superstorm Sandy Denied Coverage Based on FEMA Regulation