The issue of causation, especially when there may be multiple causes of loss, can be a tricky one for both insureds and insurers. It comes down to what caused the loss – and in what order.
Take the example of a major catastrophe, like a hurricane, where there may be property claims arising from both wind and water. Determining the cause of loss is key to determining whether there is coverage under the terms of an insurance policy because there are two policies in play, one for wind damage and one for flood damage.
Some jurisdictions subscribe to the “efficient proximate cause doctrine” while others subscribe to the “concurrent causation doctrine”.
The efficient proximate cause doctrine finds that where there is a concurrence of different perils, the efficient cause – the one that set the other in motion – is the cause to which the loss should be attributed.
Under the concurrent causation doctrine, when multiple perils contribute to a loss, coverage is allowed if at least one cause of the loss is covered by the policy.
In the case of Florida, a recent court decision adopted the concurrent causation doctrine, which will impact Hurricane Irma claims.