March 22, 2017 Top Story

Are You Covered When Multiple Perils Cause the Loss?

Florida Supreme Court resolves insurance coverage split

By Sara E. Costello

Property owners can recover for damage stemming from more than one independent cause under the concurrent causation doctrine, the Florida Supreme Court concluded in Sebo v. American Home Assurance Co. The case resolves a split between the state's appellate courts on which theory of recovery to apply when some of the causes are covered and others are excluded under the insurance policy.

Two Doctrines Governing Losses Caused by Multiple Perils

In 1988, the concurrent causation doctrine was endorsed by the Florida Third District Court of Appeal in Wallach v. Rosenberg. The appellate court explained that the property damage at issue was caused by a combination of weather and human negligence. Because the two harms were independent of each other, the court concluded "it seems logical and reasonable to find the loss covered by an all-risk policy even if one of the causes is excluded from coverage." Since Wallach, Florida courts have applied the concurrent causation doctrine.

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