Hi, We have a client whose rental home suffered significant damage as a result of the Auckland floods. The tenants vacated the property immediately and the insurer/assessor arranged strip out of the property.
This property was then targeted by looters who returned twice, the first time taking the gas infinity hot water system and then later some copper piping.
The insurer has accepted both secondary claims but has applied excesses to both separate thefts. The insured is not happy with this being that these losses are directly related to the original damage and the fact that the property was obviously empty due to the stripped-out nature of the home.
I have reviewed the definition of "Event" in the wording - “Any series of sudden and unforeseen events arising from one source or original cause shall be treated in this policy as if it was a single event.”
There is no time bar on this. Do you believe that these secondary claims could be considered as part of a "series of events arising from one source" i.e. the storm?
These additional losses would not likely have occurred if the property was still occupied and undamaged.
What is the legal position on this?
For the definition of 'event' to aggregate the otherwise 3 separate excesses, there must be a series (one after the other) of accidental happenings arising from the one source or cause.
From what you say:
1. Each of the happenings was accidental from the insured's point of view.
2. They did occur one after the other.
3. They did arise from the one cause (flood).
While the proximate cause of the intial damage was the flood, the words 'arise from' have been given a wider interpetaiton than this in some cases. This means while the proximate cause of the second two happenings was theft, those happenings arguably still arose from the flood.