Most business and homeowners’ insurance policies will offer coverage for structural collapse. While the term may bring to mind an image of complete and total ruin of a building, owners may be able to get coverage for any sudden falling-in that occurs in or outside of the structure itself.
Since the meaning of the word “collapse” can be interpreted many different ways, claims are often decided using the specific language of the insured’s policy. If the wording in a policy is ambiguous, a court may decide that damage to a building qualifies as collapse even if the damage is considered:
- Partial collapse. A court may decide that only part of a building needs to cave in or fall down to trigger collapse coverage. A portion of a roof, a front or back porch, or an indoor staircase can cause significant damage if it falls down due to compromised structural support.
- Gradual collapse. Some claims do not require the damage to happen suddenly to be classified as a collapse. Any gradual changes that cause an impairment to a building’s structural integrity can increase the odds that a portion of the structure will fall. Temperature changes, drought, and previous damages can all weaken an existing structure over time, and owners need not wait until the collapse hits a breaking point before seeking coverage.
- Imminent collapse. If a policyholder is aware that structural collapse is likely, he may be able to collect collapse coverage before the event actually occurs. Courts have covered policyholders under threat of “impending collapse” because it is in both the insureds and insurers best interest to mitigate the amount spent in damages and repair costs. In some cases, the insured can even be reimbursed for funds spent trying to prevent the collapse of the structure.
How Can I Tell If My Property Damage Counts as Structural Collapse?
Even if a court does not require that your building falls down completely before you can be awarded coverage, it will usually only award collapse coverage if a significant amount of damage occured. If your building's structural integrity has been compromised and you need insurance funds to prevent further losses, we can help. Call Wayne Wright LLP today at 800-237-3334 to have us examine your claim and explain your legal options in your free consultation!