Property Insurance Claims: Ensuing Loss
Most property insurance policies have provisions that exclude coverage for certain types of damage. Sometimes, however, an excluded type of damage leads to or creates losses that are covered. If so, those additional losses may in fact be covered under your insurance policy’s ensuing loss provisions. So even if your property damage was excluded from your policy, you may have coverage under other provisions. Indeed, you should always contact an experienced Fort Lauderdale property insurance attorney to have your policy, coverages, and claims reviewed in detail.
What is An Ensuing Loss?
An ensuing loss is a loss that is incurred as a result of previous loss. The concept is important for many Florida property insurance claims. Most property insurance policies have at least some exclusions. For example, damage from a shoddy repair job might not be covered under your policy. But, that initial damage may lead to completely separate damage. Ensuing loss provisions help protect you in the case of additional damage.
Where Does an Ensuing Loss Begin?
Ensuing loss claims can frequently lead to insurance disputes because it is not always clear as to what exactly qualifies as an ensuing loss. The Florida Supreme Court set the test for an ensuing loss in Swire Pac. Holdings, Inc. v. Zurich Ins. Co. as damage that occurs, “subsequent to, and as a result of” the original excluded damage. A Florida federal court explained how this test works in application in a case in which excluded faulty construction led to water leaks inside a building:
Given the plain meaning of the policy language, if the faulty workmanship resulted in water intrusion that subsequently resulted in ensuing losses, the cost to repair the faulty workmanship is excluded but the ensuing losses from the water intrusion are covered.
Bartram, LLC v. Landmark Am. Ins. Co., 864 F. Supp. 2d 1229, 1235 (N.D. Fla. 2012).
Liberty Mutual Fire Insurance v. Martinez is a recent Florida case in which the insured attempted, unsuccessfully, to apply the ensuing loss doctrine. In that case, a Florida couple made the decision to drain their in-ground pool in preparation for an imminent tropical storm. Unfortunately, their attempt to protect their property from damage backfired. The storm caused the groundwater to swell and the resulting pressure forced the pool out of the ground entirely. The pool was flung onto couple’s deck and caused severe damage. Under the couple’s property insurance policy all water damage was excluded. But, they tried to make a claim using the policy’s ensuing loss exception. In the end, the court ruled against the couple and sided with the insurance company. The pool damage was deemed to be a part of the water damage and not subsequent to, or a result of the water damage.
Ultimately, the key to defining ensuing losses that the damage is a different type of damage that occurred after and because of the original damage. There is no hard and fast rule for determining what counts as a different damage. The real world presents too many unique scenarios. As such, you need an experienced Florida property insurance claim attorney who can comprehensively review your damage and insurance policy for coverage. Your attorney will help you put forward a well-articulated claim and to help see that your damage is fairly covered in accordance with your policy.
Contact an Experienced Florida Property Insurance Attorney
The property insurance claims attorneys at Geyer Fuxa Tyler have a deep understanding of Florida insurance law. Claims for ensuing losses are complicated and will often be fiercely contested by insurance companies. Let our team make the case for you. Do not hesitate to contact our office at (954) 990-5251 to explore your legal options.