What to do when the damages caused by a wind storm are categorized as

We had a recent wind storm in our area that knocked out electrical the power supply to my house for 3-4 days. Since the power went off for such a long duration, the primary and eventually the battery-operated back-up sump pump, both could not function. So, there’s water damage to the finished basement. As soon as the power came back on, the same sump pumps started working again and pumped the water out (i.e. the sump pumps never failed). My position is, the damage should be seen as caused by the wind storm but the insurance company says it’s damage due to sump pump failure. The sump pumps never broke down or failed to perform on their own.

Asked on June 6, 2017 under Insurance Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

The wind did not do the damage based on what you write: it was done by flooding due to the pumps going offline. Whether or not they went offline due to wind damage to electrical lines, the fact is that the wind still did not directly cause the damage. If the wind did not cause the damage, the insurer does not need to treat it as wind damage. The fact that the damage was due to two intervening non-wind factors--rising water; and the pumps not working (which could potentially have been remedied by your getting a generator, getting battery back-ups, getting a shop vac operated by a battery or by current from your car and using it to keep ahead of the water, etc.)--breaks the causal link to the wind sufficiently as to justify them not paying.


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