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We are all aware of the human tragedy involved in the landslide which buried homes in Darrington, Washington in March 2014. From the perspective of our industry, the first question is whether a “landslide” is covered by most homeowner policies. And, since this may have been more of a “mudslide” than a landslide, is it possible that coverage could be found under an NFIP flood policy? If the answer to both questions is “No,” then is this exposure insurable?
A boat dock was damaged by boats blown in a windstorm. The adjuster has denied the claim, citing the “water damage” exclusion reference to water damage “whether or not driven by wind.” Does this exclusion apply in this non-ISO homeowners policy?
A house exploded in Charlotte, NC. Rumors of a meth lab began to swirl leading to an analysis of the HO policy to answer the question, does the insurance carrier owe anything if damage was the result of a meth lab?
A home is located on a lake that is covered in ice during the winter. In the spring, when the ice breaks up, a strong wind “pushes” ice across the lake and the backyard and into the dwelling. Is this damage covered by an HO policy? If it’s a commercial building, is it covered? What about an NFIP policy?
A homeowner has his vinyl siding painted a darker color. Direct or reflected sunlight then causes the siding to warp. Does his HO policy cover this damage? If liable, does a neighbor’s HO policy cover a liability claim that the damage was due to reflected light from the neighbor’s windows? To answer the question of whether the painter’s CGL policy might respond, check out this VU article.
An insured’s party guest wore spiked high heels that left major dents in his home’s hardwood floors. The adjuster has denied the damage, citing the “marring” and “wear and tear” exclusion and suggests the insured file a claim against the guest’s policy. Does the ISO HO-3 homeowners form cover this type of loss?
What if snow that accumulates on a roof over time results in collapse? Could the carrier deny the claim, citing the 'Neglect' exclusion in the HO policy due to the insured's failure to have the snow removed? Below is an 'Ask an Expert' question and the responses of our faculty members. As always, if you have anything to add, send an email to
A boulder dislodged from a hillside and ended up inside a home at the bottom. Is this excluded as earth movement or would it be covered as a falling object or any other non-excluded peril under the HO-3?
While it's an unpleasant topic to consider, sometimes people pass away in their homes and their bodies are undiscovered for weeks. Decomposition can lead to decay and loss of body fluids. Similarly, the clean-up costs for firearms-related suicides can cost thousands of dollars. Are these clean-up and removal expenses covered by homeowners policies or is coverage removed via the pollution exclusion?
An insured suffered severe water damage to the interior of the second floor of a dwelling. A heavy rain storm caused water to accumulate on a second floor deck which seeped into the interior of the structure. The homeowners insurer has denied coverage based on the exclusion for 'surface water.' The insured is arguing that 'surface water' refers to the accumulation of water on the ground, not 12 feet above it. Who's right?
A number of years ago, ISO added 'concurrent causation' exclusionary wording to its personal and commercial lines property forms. This was done in response to several onerous court decisions that found coverage where none was intended. However, as sometimes is the case (e.g., with the pollution exclusion), this policy language itself can be interpreted onerously....
A contractor built a new inground pool for the insured. After the pool was installed, an underground leak was discovered in a water line between the house and pool after concrete walkways began to buckle. The adjuster denied coverage based on the earth movement and water damage exclusions. Is this correct?
A large, ornate wooden bowl was scheduled on the insured's HO policy. The bowl was accidentally broken and the insurer denied the claim citing the exclusion for 'breakage of art glass windows, glassware, statuary, marble, bric-a-brac, porcelains and SIMILAR FRAGILE ARTICLES.' Is a wooden bowl a 'fragile' article? This article will discuss this issue, including an extremely important legal principle that may apply to many claims.
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