A General Overview of Causation in American Insurance Law

Abstract

In insurance law, “doctrines of causation” refers to the legal principles that underscore how the cause of peril is determined.  How does one analyze the logic of cause-and-effect under an insurance contract?    When an “occurrence” of a peril befalls the insured, the insurer shall pay the indemnity, as agreed upon in the contract.  However, how does one determine precisely the occurrence of a peril?  For instance, if a home owner’s insurance policy insures against the peril of fire, but excludes peril due to lightning strike; and then, a lightning strike causes a fire which subsequently burns down the house, then how does one determine the cause of loss?  Does it constitute loss due to fire, or due to lightning?  The answer to such a question concerns the doctrine of causation in insurance law.  Within the context of American Insurance Law, two competing schools of thought exist, these are: the doctrine of Efficient Proximate Cause, and the doctrine of Concurrent Causation.  This paper offers a general overview of this ongoing discussion in the world of American Insurance law regarding doctrines of causation.  This paper finds that, overall, American insurance law presents a patchwork of differing jurisdictions, each with its own tradition.  From a panoramic view, these traditions all fall into the Anglo-American legal experience, and have many innovations characteristic of this legal tradition; however, significant differences exist between the several states and the federal government.  The issue of causation in insurance law in the US is not in any state of great urgency, yet causation in American insurance law remains an area of hot debate.  The role of ACC clauses in US Insurance law in particular presents controversy. 

Keywords: American Insurance Law, Concurrent Causation (CC), Doctrine of Causation., Efficient Proximate Cause (EPC), Partridge-Type Concurrent Causation (PTCC)


Article Review Status: Published

Pages: 31-50 (Download PDF)

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