The insurer's motion for summary judgment to establish there was no coverage for the collapse of the front wall in the insured's home was denied. Desvarieux v. Allstate Prop. & Cas. Ins. Co., 2018 US. Dist. LEXIS 71230 (E.D. Pa. April 26, 2018).
After the front wall collapsed, a claim was submitted to Allstate. A structural engineer, David Daniels, was hired by Allstate to determine the cause of the collapse. He concluded that the cause was long term deterioration. Allstate denied coverage based upon this determination.
The insured hired her own engineer, Charles Timbre, who found wet soil when the front wall was being reconstructed. The source of the wet soil was a ruptured sewer pipe, which was a significant contributing factor in the settlement of the wall and the wall's collapse. Daniels then re-inspected the property and found the crack in the pipe was small and would only allow a small amount of liquid to escape the pipe when the basement bathroom was used. Therefore, he did not change his initial conclusion and Allstate continued to deny coverage.
Suit was filed and Allstate moved for summary judgment. Allstate argued that deterioration was not a caused covered in the collapse portion of the policy. An Escape of Water Condition provision stated that loss caused by water or steam that escaped from a plumbing system was covered. Allstate contended this provision was inapplicable because the escape of water had to be sudden and here the evidence showed that the escape of water from the cracked pipe was cyclical.
While the policy's collapse provision required a covered collapse to be sudden and accidental, it did not require the causes for such a collapsed to be sudden and accidental. In other words, the Escape of Water Condition required the physical loss, i.e., the collapse, to be sudden and accidental, but not the escape of water. Therefore the policy provided coverage under the collapse section of the policy for a sudden and accidental collapse caused by the non-sudden escape of water from a plumbing system.
The court also concluded that the deterioration and other exclusions relied upon by Allstate did not apply to the collapse provision, which was in the Additional Protection Section of the policy. The policy stated that these exclusions applied to Coverage A (loss of dwelling) and Coverage B (loss of other structures). It did not state that these exclusions applied to the Additional Protection section, which was separate from and independent of those other sections of coverage.
Therefore, Allstate's motion for summary judgment was denied.