Is Wind Driven Rain Covered Under My Homeowners Policy?

As Monsoon season has passed here in Arizona, we at times still are experiencing rains of significant proportions.  Clients have recently asked us about damage that has occurred over the years due to Monsoon Seasons.

A HO policy 00 03 05 11 with and endorsement of HO 32 32 06 12, states that  constant repeated discharge, seepage, or leakage of water excluded.  This coverage pertains to repeated wind-driven rain that causes hidden damage, mainly rot, and water damage to insulation that cannot be seen.

There is an exception for mold that is hidden behind walls that applies to water caused by heating, plumbing, air conditioning system, sprinkler system, or household appliance, or storm drain or water steam/sewer pipes off premises.  The endorsement excludes water caused by repeated seepage or leakage.  Wind driven rain is not repeated leakage or seepage, it is forced by the wind.   Wind-driven rain is excluded under the water exclusion.  Therefore this is not a covered loss.

via Summit Business Systems.

Hidden or Not Hidden Mold In Structure via Summit Business Systems

Hidden or Not Hidden Mold

The HO3 2000, (ISO), covers mold if it is hidden within the walls, or ceiling, or beneath the floors or above the ceiling of a structure if such loss results from the accidental discharge or overflow of water or steam from within (a) A plumbing, heating, …

My question is if a cabinet under a sink could possibly be interpreted as hidden within a wall. I don’t see how, but I could possibly be told this is a hidden area and it is covered. If we go with the strict wording of the policy it is not hidden within a wall, just within a cabinet under the sink.

Florida Subscriber

The policy doesn’t define hidden, and court tradition is to refer to a standard dictionary. Merriam Webster Online defines hidden as being out of sight and not readily apparent. A wall is defined as one of the sides of a room or building connecting floor and ceiling or foundation and roof. A cabinet is a case or cupboard usually having doors and shelves.

Unless the insured has some odd arrangement, most cabinets under the sink open. While the insured may not regularly look for mold, if the insured can open a cabinet it’s not a stretch to expect him to pay attention to the condition of the area. A cabinet is not a wall, and the exception is only for damage behind walls or ceilings – not cabinets, closets, or other such structures. A wall can’t be opened to store dishwasher detergent or disinfectant in.

Most references in Couch on Insurance refer to hidden decay regarding collapse, which gets into different territory. I was unable to find a similar case to what you have – the closest one had different policy language that changes the argument. In our opinion it’s not hidden behind a wall if it’s in a cabinet – the two are different structures, and the policy exception is clearly only for mold behind ceilings and walls, not cabinets.

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