What is the Concurrent Cause Doctrine?

J.P. Gonzalez-Sirgo
Founder of J.P. Gonzalez-Sirgo, P.A.

When defining the concurrent cause doctrine, it is important to understand the concept of causation and the various doctrines that define coverage differently based off these distinctions.

§ 2243 of Florida Jurisprudence, Second Edition broadly defines the concurrent cause doctrine and its applicability as follows:

The concurrent cause doctrine, which permits coverage under a policy when the loss results from multiple causes as long as one of the causes is an insured risk, is applicable only when the multiple causes are not related and dependent and involve a separate and distinct risk.”

To better understand this doctrine, you need to know what the cause of the loss was and whether it was created concurrently with the un-covered causes stemming from the same event. If they did, the un-covered causes will still be compensated for.  A similar doctrine that is not mutually exclusive if applied with the concurrent cause doctrine is the efficient proximate cause doctrine. Under the efficient proximate cause doctrine  losses created by causes not covered in your policy may still be compensated for if the event creating the overall loss stemmed substantially or was set in motion by a covered peril. Bartram, LLC v. Landmark American Ins. Co., 864 F. Supp. 2d 1129 (N.D. Fla. 2012).

This is different from the concurrent cause doctrine because it will only expand coverage to non-covered events if the primary cause or creation of the causal link of events was set in the play by a covered peril. Knowing this slight distinction between these two doctrines can help you predictably calculate which losses will be covered and which category your insurance policy falls into. It is also important to know when these doctrines would be considered enforceable. This falls upon the validity of the doctrine which can be decided by looking at your overall insurance policy. If one of these doctrines materially invalidates the initial purpose of the overall policy, then it will not be considered enforceable because it frustrates the point of the contract.  

Another clause sometimes found in insurance policies that can void or work around the concurrent cause doctrine are anticoncurrent causation clauses. These clauses are used by insurance companies to contract their way around the concurrent cause doctrine by excluding coverage if the loss created was created by multiple sources, one of which is not covered in your policy. In some circumstances this can bar complete coverage. These clauses may be disputable if found to be unconscionable or restricted by statutory language and prohibitions provided by your state’s legislation. However, only a minority of jurisdictions void these clauses as a legal default, so such clauses are usually enforceable making it important you analyze your policy’s contractual language to see if one is present and can prevent you from being compensated by your insurance claim. Examples of statutes that could void this clause are “Valued Policy Statutes” which believe the inclusion of anticoncurrent causation clauses are inherently poor custom within the insurance industry.

If you are confused about where your policy would fit into, then the interpretation of ambiguous contractual language by an experienced insurance claims attorney can help you understand your policy or what the Court will likely interpret your policy as. Courts often liberally construe ambiguous language in the of favor of the insured and strictly against insurance companies. Despite this fact, it is important to be aware of what is the content of your insurance policy in a scenario where you need to dispute a denied insurance claim. An experienced insurance claims attorney can help you understand complicated and tricky legal language used by insurance companies to prevent recovery from your claim. Also, knowledge of case precedent can help you dispute the denial of your claim because Court’s look at decisions made by the state’s highest courts when dealing with similar policy interpretations or conflicting clauses within insurance policies.

The lack of an anticoncurrent clause can also work to the insured’s advantage as well. In Florida, if an ACC is missing from your policy and the insurance company fails to establish what the source of loss was then Court’s apply the concurrent cause doctrine by default. This is just one of the many examples of how understanding what is included in your policy can help you recover a denied or disputed claim. Jones v. Federated National Insurance Company, 235 So. 3d 936 (Fla. 4th DCA 2018). If you have any questions regarding your policy or an insurance claim, it is recommended that you contact an experience insurance claims attorney.

You can reach Miami Insurance Claims Lawyer J.P. Gonzalez-Sirgo by dialing his direct number at (786) 272-5841, calling the main office at (305) 461-1095, or Toll Free at 1 (866) 71-CLAIM or email Attorney Gonzalez-Sirgo directly at[email protected].

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