How can you make an insurance company pay for new damage to a boat, when there is pre-exisiting damage unrelated to the new damage?

UPDATED: Aug 10, 2012

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UPDATED: Aug 10, 2012Fact Checked

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How can you make an insurance company pay for new damage to a boat, when there is pre-exisiting damage unrelated to the new damage?

My boat has been broken into. It did have pre-existing rotted floor in the cabin. When the hatch was compromised, water was able to get into the cabin of the boat. Because the floor was rotted, the water went through to the foam core in the hull. The surveyor said it isn’t likely that insurance will pay for the repairs, even though it is new damage, because of the pre-exisiting damage to the boat. I feel that this would be an unfair decision because the boat was ok before this and not is not even usable due to vandalism. I file a police report. What can I do?

Asked on August 10, 2012 under Insurance Law, Michigan


M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

You may have to fight the insurance company in what is known as a "declaratory judgement" action asking the court to decalre that there is coverage.  But I might pay for a consultation with an attorney in your area first who can read your policy knowing existing case law.  You have to understand that the insurance company will claim that the "new" damage was a result of the pre-existing damage and "but for" that old damage it would not have occurred.  This is not unreasonable under the law to make such a statement.   Good luck.

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