Insured homeowners often face greater difficulty in receiving payouts from property damage insurance claims where the claims spring out of multiple perils. Situations may arise where homeowners experience damage to property stemming from a peril that is covered under his or her insurance policy, but further examination reveals that there may be more than one peril that caused the loss. The case below illustrates one approach that Florida courts have taken in handling these types of cases.
In American Home Assurance Co v. Sebo, a homeowner purchased a four-year-old house and obtained an all-risks insurance policy. The policy contained an exclusion for inadequate, faulty, or defective planning. Shortly after the owner bought the home, it began showing signs of water leaks during rainstorms and hurricanes. After several months, the homeowner filed an insurance claim for the water damage, and after investigating the claim, the insurer denied coverage for most of the losses. The company tendered $50,000 for mold coverage but indicated that the rest of the damages to the home, including damages to the windows and doors, were excluded.
The house degraded beyond the point of repair and was demolished. The homeowner filed suit against the sellers, the architect, and the construction company that built the house. She alleged that the architect and construction company negligently built and designed the home and that the sellers engaged in material fraud by failing to disclose the property’s defects. Additionally, the homeowner filed suit against the insurance company and sought for the court to declare that the homeowners’ insurance policy covered all the claimed damages. The case against the insurer went to trial, and the jury decided in the homeowner’s favor. The insurance company appealed. Continue reading →