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Rockfall Damage Not a Landslide Victory | Legal insurance blog for property insurance



In a recent case Sullivan v. Nationwide Affinity Insurance Company 1 on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a court decision to find a policy excluding ground movement blocked coverage for damage caused by rock falls . On Monday, the panel of three judges found that the policy's exclusion of landslides is not limited to damage caused by ground movement, but also included rocks, and the conclusion that a "rockfall" is a type of "landslide."

In August 2018, the plaintiffs accused. The Colorado cottage suffered significant damage when a pair of uphill rocks came loose and struck the plaintiff's home.

The plaintiffs filed a claim with their insurance company Nationwide, which in turn refused the claim. In their denial, Nationwide referred to its engineering report, which claimed that the damage was caused by a landslide and that the policy blocked the coverage of "earthquake". The plaintiff brought an action for breach of contract, unobtrusive faith and an explanatory judgment. In support of their position, the plaintiffs submitted a geological engineering report concluding that a rockfall is not a landslide and the term "soil" means soil, not rock.

However, the Court of Appeal upheld the district court's grant of a summary judgment in favor of the Nationwide, stating the exclusion of the policy, was "intended to include all-natural materials that make up the earth's surface, including rocks and soil." The three panel of judges explained that it would be unreasonable to cover damage from a rock protection slide and bar damage caused by landslides.
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1

Sullivan v. Nationwide Affinity Ins. Co. No. 20-1063 (10th Circ. 11 January 2021).


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