The Mississippi Supreme Court upheld a trial court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of an insurer on the basis that destruction of an insured’s beachfront home by a barge would not have occurred in the absence of water so the exclusion under the homeowner’s policy for loss caused by water precludes coverage. Porter v. Grand Casino of Mississippi, Inc., 2016 WL 82468 (Miss. Jan. 7, 2016).
The insured’s home was destroyed when a barge came loose from its moorings and collided with her home. The insured made a claim under her homeowner’s policy, which excluded loss caused by wind or water damage, as well as loss that would not have occurred in the absence of an excluded event. The insured sued the insurer for bad faith denial of coverage and negligence in issuing her policy. The policy stated:
We do not insure under any coverage for any loss which would not have occurred in the absence of one or more of the following excluded events … Water Damage, meaning: (1) flood, surface water, waves, tidal water, tsunami, seiche, overflow of a body of water, or spray from any of these, all whether driven by wind or not….
The policy additionally excluded “loss resulting directly or indirectly from windstorm or hail.” The insured’s policy did not include an anti-concurrent causation clause, which excludes loss caused directly or indirectly by flood, regardless of any other cause or event contributing concurrently or in any sequence to the loss.
The Mississippi Supreme Court found that the policy excluded coverage both from wind damage and loss caused by water damage. The insured maintained that her home was destroyed by the barge, but the Court found the barge would not have collided with the insured’s home without the presence of water, finding that the policy wording “we do not insure under any coverage for any loss which would not have occurred in the absence of … [w]ater damage” could not be construed to mean that debris in a storm surge, an uncovered loss, would be covered when water caused the debris to collide with the property.