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Opposing Views: Any Movement vs. Natural and Catastrophic

Summary: Property policies generally exclude earth movement as a cause of loss. What constitutes earth movement for purposes of the exclusion? There are two views that have been developed in the courts: (1) damage only from natural and catastrophic earth movement is reached by the exclusion, or (2) any damage attributable to earth movement is excluded. The former is currently the majority position. Under this view, for example, damage caused by vibrations from passing logging trucks transmitted through the ground has been held covered; under the other position, such damage would be excluded. This discussion examines the case law regarding this issue.

Topics covered:IntroductionNaturally caused catastrophic earth movements are excludedAny earth movement excludedEfficient proximate causeThird party negligence

Introduction

A standard feature of property insurance forms is the exclusion of loss associated with earth movement. The following, for example, is the earth movement exclusion clause (with the concurrent causation language lead-in) as found in the basic, broad, and special causes of loss forms of the commercial property program of Insurance Services Office (ISO CP 10 10 04 02 , CP 10 20 04 02 , and CP 10 30 04 02 .

B.1. We will not pay for loss or damage caused directly or indirectly by any of the following. Such loss or damage is excluded regardless of any other cause or event that contributes concurrently or in any sequence to the loss.

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