Case Summary: Auto insurer’s desires dampened when court finds it liable for initial collision damage as well as ensuing water damage
Insurer liable for damage to roof of insured’s trailer, as well as water damage to trailer that followed despite the water damage not arising immediately.
Insurance law – Automobile insurance – Trailer – Collision – Exclusions – Interpretation of policy – Damages
Targett v. Royal and Sun Alliance Co.,  N.J. No. 91, 2019 NLPC 1318C00191, Newfoundland and Labrador Provincial Court, March 22, 2019, W. Gorman Prov. Ct. J.
The insured owned a travel trailer that was damaged when the roof was punctured after making contact with a tree branch. After the roof was damaged, water seeped into the trailer, damaging it further. The insurer agreed that the policy covered the costs of repairing the roof as a “collision loss”; however, the insurer took the position that replacement of the roof was not necessary, and any water damage to the trailer was not caused by puncture, but by wear and tear, and thus was not covered. The insured sued for damages for the cost to replace the trailer’s roof.
The court found that the only manner in which damage to the roof could be remedied was by replacing the roof. Although it does not appear that the insured sued for the damages caused by the water seepage, the court considered whether the water damage was covered by the policy. The policy contained a provision excluding coverage caused by “wear and tear” unless the damage is “coincident with other loss or damage” covered by the policy. The court found that “coincident with” in the context of that particular policy was designed to provide coverage for damages which occur as a result of a single collision and which are connected, proximate, or “causal” in nature. The court held that, when a collision causes immediate damage to a motor vehicle as well as damage that subsequently arises, the latter damage, in order to be considered “coincidental”, does not have to arise immediately as long as it is sufficiently connected to the collision.
The court held that the insurer had failed to establish that the puncture to the roof was not a proximate cause of the water damage.
This case was digested by Tricia M Milne, and first published in the LexisNexis® Harper Grey Insurance Law Netletter and the Harper Grey Insurance Law Newsletter. If you would like to discuss this case further, please contact Tricia M. Milne at email@example.com.