The language in a homeowners insurance policy can often be difficult to interpret especially in the context of other provisions of the policy. Ambiguity in a policy generally will be construed to provide coverage when the language is susceptible to conflicting interpretations authorizing and negating coverage. However, our Miami homeowners’ insurance claims attorneys understand this rule must be understood in light of the distinction between latent and patent ambiguity. Patent ambiguity refers to provisions or terms that are conflicting or unclear language within the four corners of the policy. Because the insurance company drafts the policy, such ambiguities will be construed against the insurance company. Latent ambiguities involve situations where the policy is clear on its face, but unanticipated facts emerge that render the policy unclear under the circumstances.
The 2nd DCA, in Price v. Castle Key Indemnity Company considered this distinction in reversing summary judgment against an insured. The court considered whether a loss caused by 195,000 gallons of water over a prolonged period would be considered “seepage.” The parties to a homeowners insurance policy agreed that the massive water loss was caused by a leaking pipe in an upstairs bathroom during an extended absence of the policyholder. The policy covered “sudden and accidental physical loss to property” subject to the following exclusion: Continue reading →