Wednesday, April 09, 2008

"A Flood is a Flood"

so says the Louisiana State Supreme Court in a ruling on a case involving insurance coverage for homes damaged in the Wake of Katrina, the levee breach and a massive case load.
The Louisiana Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected arguments that homeowner insurance policies should have covered damages caused by levee breaches during Hurricane Katrina, saying the disaster clearly involved a "flood" not covered by such policies.

The state's high court reversed decisions by state trial and appeals courts that said the definition of the word "flood" was ambiguous in New Orleans resident Joseph Sher's hazard insurance policy with Lafayette Insurance Co.


The high court ruled that Sher's homeowner policy was not ambiguous in excluding coverage for a flood. The court said the lower courts should have looked at the "plain, ordinary and generally prevailing definition" of the word "flood."

"Contrary to the court of appeal's reasoning, this definition (of 'flood') does not change or depend on whether the event is a natural disaster or a man-made one -- in either case, a large amount of water covers an area that is usually dry," the Supreme Court opinion said.

'A flood is a flood'

Justice Chet Traylor of Winnsboro, writing the majority decision, went a step further, saying the flooding in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina was not caused by man, only aided by human errors.

"The flood was caused by Hurricane Katrina, not by man," Traylor wrote. "The levees did not cause the flood, they, whether through faulty design, faulty construction, or some other reason, failed to prevent the flood."
No homeowners insurance policy I know of covers flood damage. That is why when you live in an area prone to flooding, you get flood insurance from the federal government. If you live in an area that is under sea level, you are foolish to not have flood insurance.

Of course, one wonders if these people will attempt to sue the Army Corps of Engineers and/or any companies tasked with maintaining the levees. Based on this excerpt of the opinion, it would appear that such a suit might be more successful, if the plaintiffs can prove negligence.

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