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Insurance Contract

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Richard Vanderbrook vs. Unitrin Preferred Insurance Company

A decision in this case is hinged on the clauses, conditions and warranties forming part of the policy under which the insured, Richard Vanderbrook is insured. The core subject which has affected the client is a flood which has occasioned the loss that the insured incurred. Therefore, a rigorous assessment of the ambiguity of the clause of flood exclusion in the policy is the main issue in determining an efficacious solution. Thus, there is a way based on some reasoning that will support a ruling in the plaintiffs’ favor or a contrary reasoning in the defendants’ favor. This assessment may rely largely on the way the term, “flood” is defined. It may be perceived in the favor of the plaintiff that the clauses touching on the exclusions of floods presented a lot of ambiguity since the term “flood” is actually vulnerable to two logical definitions: one that can state that floods occasioned by causes of nature alone and another that links floods occasioned by both causes of nature and intentional or negligent action.

Based on such an ambiguity, the policy may be construed in favor of client to the insurance company.  The defendant’s claim that the exclusions of flood in the policy unequivocally precludes any coverage for the losses occasioned by the flooding based on the breached levees, not taking into account the breaching of the levees since they were negligently constructed, designed or improperly maintained can be challenged. Even though the term was not given a definition in the policy, the occurrence ensuing from the levees’ breach fit well within the commonly understood reference to which the term, “flood” makes. This is regardless of whether the cause was occasioned by a natural occurrence or not. The plaintiff therefore stands a right chance to claim compensation from the insurance company because floods occasioned the loss. The case can thus be on the favor of the plaintiff since there was no specific definition stating what floods referred to in the policy.

The defendant, Unitrin Preferred Insurance Company however states in the policy that they offer coverage for risk involving direct physical loss realized in structures on the asset of the insured together with particular risks facilitating loss to individual property as far as the loss is not occasioned by an excluded peril. Therefore, the policy contains a flood exclusion through which the defendant can refer to in order to avoid liability.  Thus, the defendant would re-state that it is clearly indicated on the policy that no insurance is provided for loss occasioned either directly of indirectly through any of the items as stated in the policy: water damage referring to surface water, tidal water, water body overflow, flood, waves or a spray occasioned by any of these factors be it driven or not driven by wind. The defendant, the insurer makes and exclusion of such factors in spite of any other factor or occurrence which concurrently contributes or in any progression to the loss realized.

Well, the English definition of “flood” contemplates a natural occurrence resulting from either a tide or rain. Secondly, the interpretation of the exclusions of “water damage” within the ruptured mains of water together with the “movements of the earth” exclusions  where a distinction can be applied to define unnatural and natural occurrences. Therefore, the court may reject any claims interpreting exclusions of floods as including water inundations occasioned by a dike’s or a dam’s rapture.  Looking at the ambiguity of the definition of “flood,” the case would turn out in favor of the defendant based on the claim that the policy given to the plaintiff covered damage by water occasioned by a ruptured levee in a case where the rupture was occasioned by the inadequate construction, maintenance or design of the levee.  This reasoning would see the insurer (defendant) win the case in which the insured succumbed to a loss of property occasioned by the Hurricane Katrina Storm.

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