You know that article I said I was researching and writing on anti-concurrent cause language, which has been such a big part of the Katrina public debate and litigation? Well, it is finally done and I have sent it off to the editor. If I’ve made any mistakes in causation analysis, it certainly won’t be because of lack of effort.
As I sit here in my office writing this post at 3 a.m., I have stacks of paper roughly three feet high, if you put them all together. Most of this I read, in an effort to trace causation theory from Aristotle to Hume to English fire and maritime policies to wacky California cases to Katrina and beyond. I think I got it, but only time will tell. I made a great effort to write it in as entertaining and simple a way as you can when you are dealing with a subject like causation that either flees as you approach or fights back. I have suffered much over this article. When writing these hard, long-term projects, your will gets weak, and your thoughts seem to scatter like marbles on the floor at the slightest excuse. I’m sure you’ve been there yourself.
So I’ve had this letter written by the Consumer Federation of America sitting on my computer for a week, and have been wanting to write about it, but I felt if I said anything about causation or anti-concurrent cause language outside of what I was writing in the article, I would lose my focus. So now that it’s done, I can say what I have to say. The letter requests that state insurance commissioners act to overturn anti-concurrent cause language and strip it from new policies issued in the states. But as I point out in my article, the wind damage and the water damage caused by Katrina were, in the great bulk of the cases, not concurrent causes, they were separate, independent causes of loss, and therefore do not present an issue of concurrent or multiple causation of a single loss. That anti-concurrent cause language is at the center of Katrina debate is one of the great ironies of the entire Katrina mess. I’ve made that point on this blog before, but of course not in the depth I do in the article.
Here’s an excerpt from the letter:
What is lurking to unexpectedly deny coverage to consumers in your state? Would a later flood override a claim for tornado damage? Would an earthquake that occurred at the same time as or after a fire destroyed a home negate coverage for fire losses? Would the discovery of mold or termite damage exclude wind or fire damage that occurred?
Surely it is terrible public policy to allow this sort of policy provision to exist, ticking like a time bomb, waiting to go off in the face of unsuspecting customers.
For reasons that I explore in exhaustive detail in my article, the scenarios listed above are — I’m sorry to be so blunt, but it’s true — just pure, uninformed bunk, and show a complete lack of understanding both of the real coverage issues in Katrina litigation and of how anti-concurrent cause language works. You know, when I was a kid growing up in NoDak, one of my brother’s friends so habitually spewed bunk — his every thought, word and deed was saturated with it — that people disregarded his real name and he was universally referred to and called simply Bunk. Make of that story what you will.
Let that be the last word from my keyboard on anti-concurrent cause language this week. I am going to go home, grab a few winks, get back in the office for a mid-morning conference call, help out some clients and then take a vacation. How I will blog during this vacation, which will be in a place without Wi-Fi or even (shudder) dial-up, I have not yet figured out, but I blogged from the middle of Yellowstone, and I will find a way. So long for this week.