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The Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia has ruled that the earth movement exclusion in an insurance policy unambiguously precluded coverage for earth movement caused by natural or  man caused events. The case is Erie Ins. Property and Cas. Co. v. Chaber, No. 16-0490 (W.Va. June 1, 2017).

Dimitri and Mary Chaber owned property in St. Albans West Virginia, which they leased to a motorcycle shop. Soon later, soil and rock slid down a hill behind the property and damaged the motorcycle shop. The Chabers filed a claim with their insurance company, Erie Insurance Property and Casualty Company for the damage caused by the mudslide. The policy specifically said that there was no coverage for buildings loss or damaged caused directly or indirectly by . . . landslide, including any earth sinking, rising, or shifting related to such an event. The policy goes on to state: “This exclusion applies regardless of whether any of the above, in Paragraphs 5.a through 5.d is caused by an act of nature or is otherwise caused.” And “But if Earth Movement, as described in 5.a through 5.d above, results in fire, explosion, sprinkler leakage, volcanic action, or building glass breakage, we will pay for the “loss” or damage caused by such perils.

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