Have you thoroughly read all of the terms of your insurance policy? If you’re like the overwhelming majority of homeowners, the answer to this question probably isn’t a resounding “yes.” In fact, most people have scarcely even skimmed the full text of their home insurance policy, and are unfortunately surprised to find out what is and isn’t covered when they need their policy the most. For example, insurance companies often refuse to cover damages that may have been partially caused by something that isn’t covered in the policy through an anti-concurrent cause (ACC) provision, and most people discover this after it’s too late and their home has sustained serious damage.
WHAT IS AN ACC?
To put it simply, an ACC is a clause included in most first-party insurance policies that essentially states that any damage that was partially caused by something that isn’t covered by the policy will not be covered. In other words, if your home sustains damage from multiple causes, any damage caused or partially-caused by something that isn’t covered will not be covered by your insurance claim.
These clauses could be extremely detrimental to policy holders who face a tragedy like so many here in Houston have recently done. For example, if your home sustained damage from both high winds and flooding during Hurricane Harvey, you probably sustained both wind and flood damage. The majority of homeowner’s policies don’t cover damage caused by flooding, but do cover wind damage. However, because there’s a mixture of damage that could be attributed to both of these causes, homeowner’s insurance companies are often quick to deny claims that they can attribute even partially to flood damage, which leads to policyholders receiving payouts that are a small fraction of what they should have received and need to fix their home.
PROTECTING YOURSELF & YOUR HOME
An ACC provision is a “trap door” that allows insurance companies to simply drop out of claims and absolve themselves of responsibility. Damages with multiple causes are common during catastrophes like hurricanes, and far too many people learn they’re not going to get the financial relief they need to fix their home after it’s too late. Be sure to talk to your insurer and find out if your policy has one of these provisions included in it, and figure out how it might apply in a situation like we have recently experienced as a result of Hurricane Harvey.
If you feel as though your insurance company is using one of these clauses to get away from their responsibility to pay an otherwise legitimate claim, you could have grounds to hold them responsible for bad faith, which means you should not hesitate to speak with a Houston insurance attorney.