Published on:

Rhode Island Supreme Court Denies Homeowner Relief Based Upon Policy Exclusion

When searching for a homeowner’s insurance policy, many Rhode Island homeowners seek out the lowest premium or highest policy limits without paying much attention to the details of what types of losses are covered or excluded from a particular policy. In the event of an incident involving damage or loss, a homeowner may be denied coverage for some type of loss that they thought or assumed would be included in their policy. A recent decision by the Rhode Island Supreme Court demonstrates this scenario.

According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff was a homeowner who purchased an insurance policy from the defendant. In May of 2017, the plaintiff’s water heater ruptured and caused flood damage to their home. Believing that the damage was covered by the homeowner’s policy, the plaintiff made a claim with the defendant which was denied. The plaintiff sued the defendant in district court, alleging that the policy included coverage for damage from the incident. The district court reviewed the insurance policy and determined that the text of the policy included an exclusion for water damage caused by a malfunctioning appliance in the dwelling and determined that the defendant was justified in denying the plaintiff’s claim.

The plaintiff appealed the ruling to the Rhode Island Supreme Court, pointing to language in the policy providing coverage for sudden, accidental, and direct physical loss caused by fire, explosion, or theft resulting from a flood or other water-related incident. The plaintiff claimed that the damage caused to their home should be covered under this provision, as the water heater exploded prior to the flooding. The high court denied the plaintiff’s arguments, finding that the clear and unambiguous language within the policy excluded any water damage resulting from a defective or malfunctioning appliance, and that the provision affording coverage to damage incident to flooding did not afford coverage for the type of damage reflected in the plaintiff’s claim.

Here, because the plaintiff’s insurance policy did not include coverage for water damage resulting from a defective appliance, he was unable to recover any compensation from their insurance company for the loss. Had the plaintiff’s purchased an insurance policy that included coverage for such damage, his claim would most likely have been paid at the outset, and he would have avoided fruitless litigation and expense. For these reasons, homeowners should carefully review the coverage amounts and exclusions in their insurance policy, and purchase a policy that includes as much coverage as they can reasonably afford. In the event of an accident, disaster, or other incident resulting in damages and loss, homeowners with more comprehensive insurance policies will be better compensated and find themselves in a more favorable position to repair and rebuild their property and recover from the loss.

Contact a Dedicated Rhode Island Insurance Dispute Lawyer for Immediate Assistance

If you or a loved one is having a dispute with an insurance company over a homeowner’s claim, the issue of what is covered is not always cut and dry. Insurance companies will often deny a claim for damage that should be covered by the policy, leaving homeowner’s in a difficult position. With the advice and counsel of an experienced Rhode Island insurance attorney, you can decide if there is a valid basis to challenge the denial of your claim. The qualified insurance lawyers with Bilodeau Capalbo, LLC understand the strategies and tactics used by insurance companies to avoid paying valid claims, and we can take them to court if necessary to get you the compensation that you deserve. Contact our offices at 401-300-4055 to schedule a consultation with a dedicated Rhode Island insurance attorney today.

Contact Information