Saturday, August 24, 2013

First Circuit holds that flooding from roof is covered because roof is a dry land area

I've been discussing Fidelity Co-operative Bank v. Nova Casualty Co., __ F.3d __, 2013 WL 4016361 (1st. Cir. 2013), in which the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit held that property damage from a flooded roof was proximately caused by the inadequate roof drainage system, a covered loss, not by rainwater, an excluded loss. 

Nova, the insurer, argued that there was no coverage because the water that flooded the building was surface water excluded by the policy.  The court agreed that the water was surface water. It held, however, that the surface water exclusion did not apply.  Although the policy excluded damage from surface water, an amendatory endorsement provided coverage for flooding caused by the unusual or rapid accumulation or runoff of surface waters from any source.  The flood coverage provision defined "flood" as a "general or temporary condition of partial or complete inundation of normally dry land areas."  The court held that the roof is a "dry land area" under the standard technical definition of land, which includes buildings, fixtures and fences. 

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