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Villamil v. Sentinel Insurance Company

United States District Court, District of New Jersey (2018)

This was a case involving a typical “water” exclusion, though part of the exclusion, for water backing up from sewers or drains, was replaced by an endorsement granting coverage for backup of sewers or drains if not caused by flood. The insured, indeed, incurred a loss by backup not caused by flood or surface water, but, because some of the water entering the insured’s premises was in fact water that flowed into the building from “pure” surface water, i.e., it came directly from the sky, the court upheld the insurer’s coverage denial, granting summary judgment, based upon the anti-concurrent causation verbiage which applied to what remained of the flood exclusion. The case demonstrates New Jersey’s continued recognition of anti-concurrent causation provisions in insurance policies, with the twist, here, being that it applied even though the flood exclusion itself had been eviscerated by the removal of the “backup” portion thereof.