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Citizens Insurance ducks an obligation

In 2003, the City of Flint replaced the sidewalk in front of a building insured by Citizens.  The basement, occupied by Legal Services Plan of Eastern Michigan, occupied land up to and underneath the sidewalk.  During construction, the contractors accidentally opened an abandoned coal chute allowing access to the basement.  Over the July 4 weekend, a significant rain deposited 20 inches of surface water from the paved road adjacent to the sidewalk in the basement rooms occupied by the Plan.  The Plan looked to Citizens to cover the damage.

The Citizens policy did not cover damage caused by "surface water," however, it did cover damage caused by "construction activities."  The court concluded the exclusion from coverage controlled, particularly since the policy also excluded any damage caused by an "act or decision" of another "person, group, organization or governmental body."  It also held that the policy language was not ambiguous, despite these contradictory coverages and exclusions, but that, in any event the "explicit policy exclusion" of surface water damage controlled.

One wonders just exactly what the Citizens' Homeowners policy actually does cover.  And whether any normal person could sort out that coverage, given several days to try.

Thompson O’Neil, P.C.
309 East Front Street
Traverse City, Michigan 49684
Toll Free: 1-800-678-1307
Fax: 231-929-7262