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Last Post 02/07/2010 4:25 PM by  Ray Hall
Cars surfing on mud waves
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Leland
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02/06/2010 7:22 PM

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    Five homes were tagged with a red notice warning they were unsafe to enter. At one house, mud was piled up to the handle on the front door and the yard was completely washed away, replaced with muck, rocks and a tangle of tree roots. Two white Toyotas were smashed up against front of house.

     

    Now we know that flood is excluded under DP1 and HO3 policies. But both cover vehicles. Would you cover the building damage from where the car hit the building?

     

    Would it make any difference to your coverage decision if the driver was in the car when it hit the dwelling, and the driver later admits he made a dangerous left turn into the mud flow that then carried him along, depositing the car againts the house?

     

    Would you pay for flooding into the house that came through a hole made by the vehicle?

     

     

     

     

     
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    sbeau4014
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    02/06/2010 10:08 PM
    A very interesting sample to post here. I would venture to guess in your fair state there is already court precedent on this issue as to whether debris floated into a property would open up coverage for damages caused by that debris. Argument can be made that the vehicle damages itself to the property could give rise to coverage, but not the subsequent mudflow/flood going into the house. I wouldn't make any judgement on the coverages without review of prior legal precedent and give the carrier a full picture of the facts/damages segregated out (ie what damages were vehicle only and what was mudflow/flooding going through the hole created by the vehicle.
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    Leland
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    02/07/2010 12:17 AM
    I have no idea, I just saw the article and thought it was a good question.

    Now in my copy of the DP1 (a named peril policy) "Perils Insured Against" it says:

    Unless the loss is excluded in the General Exclusions, we insure for direct physical loss to the property covered caused by:...

    Vehicles.

    This peril does not include loss:

    a. Caused by a vehicle owned or operated by you or a resident of the Described Location; or
    b. caused by any vehicle to fences, driveways and walks.

    Under "General Exclusions" it says:

    A. We do not insure for loss caused directly or indirectly by any of the following. Such loss is excluded regardless of any other cause or event contributing concurrently or in any sequence to the loss....

    2. Earth Movement, meaning earthquake, including land shock waves or tremors before, during or after a volcanic eruption; landslide; mine subsidence; mudflow;earth sinking, rising, or shifting; unless direct loss by:
    a. fire; or
    b. explosion;
    ensues and then we will pay only for the ensuing loss.

    I interpret this to mean that vehicle damage is generally covered, but not if the vehicle causes a mudslide and it is the mudslide that damages the house, and also not covered if the mudslide causes the vehicle to hit the house. (...in any sequence...)

    but I'm not 100% sure.
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    WILLIS
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    02/07/2010 11:59 AM

    Ultimately you need to look at the underlying cause of the loss. In this case it is flooding  and no DP or HO policy will cover that. If flooding caused the mudslide and that picked up a car then slammed it into a home the resulting loss would be excluded due to flooding. That has been challenged and upheld in about every state and especially in California

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    Leland
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    02/07/2010 4:06 PM
    I think you are right but it's the anti-concurrent causation language that makes it so.

    without that language you could have a vehicle hit a retaining wall and if it let loose a wall of mud from behind the retaining wall the ensuing mud into the home would be covered under the peril of vehicle.

    Because it has that extra language (" Such loss is excluded regardless of any other cause or event contributing concurrently or in any sequence to the loss....") is reason why it can be denied

    We had a case in California where settlement and earth movement was denied but won on appeal because the proximate cause of the earth movement was a covered cause, a plumbing leak.

    I think maybe some of that extra language was added to the policies after that case but I haven't been around long enough to be sure.

    But in one of the examples I gave there were perhaps TWO causes: bad driving and also the mudslide

    I could see a carrier agreeing to give (some?) coverage, if the driver's action was a factor in hitting the building.

    For example if you ask the question "But for the driver's manner of driving, would the vehicle have impacted the dwelling?"

    If the answer is yes, the carrier might pay for the damage from vehicle impact only.

    Of course if the vehicle was merely parked and then washed into the building I would not expect the carrier to extend coverage.

    And also there is a question wether this is flooding-

    If I remember correctly it is flooding if the mud is a watery like a chocolate shake. If it has the consistency of heavy wet dirt it is not flood. Somebody tell me if I am wrong.

    I would like to see Steve E.'s opinion.

    Anybody going to the Flood class this year in Ontario Calif? when is it?

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    Ray Hall
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    02/07/2010 4:25 PM

    The flood ploicy has the language" as when earth is carried by a current of water" other movement of earth bywetmess down hill seems to be not"mudflow". The negligence can not be imputed to a parked auto, a driven auto humm just a maby.

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