At $40-70 billion in estimated insured losses, Hurricane Ian is the nation’s second most expensive natural disaster for the insurance industry. Less than two months later, Hurricane Nicole made landfall in Florida. Securing insurance coverage for these losses will be an important part of rebuilding and recovery.

Recently, Reed Smith’s insurance coverage lawyers hosted a webinar, “Maximizing Insurance Recovery after Hurricane Ian,” to answer several frequently asked questions policyholders ask (or should ask) to ensure maximum recovery after these natural disasters. We summarize a few of those answers below.

What type of insurance coverage applies? Property Damage? Business Income? Ordinance and Law? Service Interruption? All of the above?

Put simply, the answer is: It depends on the facts and the language of the policy, but one or more types of coverage may apply. For example, a policyholder may have property damage coverage if they sustained physical damage to buildings, business property (e.g., machinery, equipment, raw materials, etc.), or property of others in the policyholder’s control. That same policyholder may also have service interruption coverage if they experienced dislocation of utility or telecommunications service and suffered business income losses as a result.

All types of common coverages are discussed during the webinar, which can be viewed on demand.Continue Reading Hurricane Ian and Hurricane Nicole: Answering questions policyholders frequently ask (or should ask) to ensure maximum recovery

This year, Hurricane Ian swept through the Southeastern United States, causing extensive damage to property in the affected areas. While obtaining insurance recoveries for any loss can be a complex endeavor, recovery for hurricane loss is particularly complex, as it typically involves a mix of covered and excluded perils. Most standard homeowners or other property insurance policies provide coverage for wind-related losses, but exclude coverage for loss caused by flood. While some policyholders may have purchased standard flood insurance policies that provide coverage for flood losses; many have not. Whether the policyholder has a homeowner’s or general property policy, a flood insurance policy, or both, the question of recovery for damage caused by mixed wind and flood forces requires a complex analysis as both covered and uncovered causes may contribute to the damage to insured property. 

Analyzing combined causes of loss

Where a loss stems from multiple causes, some covered and others excluded, coverage will depend on whether the causes are contributing, or separate and independent causes of loss. 

Where separate perils combine to create one indivisible loss, these will be considered combined or contributing causes of loss and courts will generally apply one of two tests:

  1. A majority of jurisdictions apply the efficient proximate cause test. This test permits recovery for loss caused by a combination of covered and excluded perils when the efficient proximate cause, i.e. the primary event producing the loss, is a covered cause of loss.
  2. The concurrent cause doctrine, the minority approach, provides coverage for combined-peril claims so long as a covered cause of loss is a contributing cause of the loss, regardless of whether it is the primary cause or not. 

Continue Reading Maximizing recovery for combined wind and flood damages in hurricane claims

Companies are facing operational and logistical challenges in recovering from the widespread destruction caused by these natural disasters. They will be looking to property damage and business interruption insurance to get them back on track. The time and cost to return to normal operations could be unusually long given the widespread destruction and the lack

Hurricanes Harvey and Irma have brought widespread destruction and extraordinary damage to property that will require a long recovery. Individuals will need substantial relief to replace and repair homes and personal property. This blog provides guidance about insurance and governmental resources available to assist individuals after these Hurricanes and discusses common issues and questions arising