In Parker v. Safeco Insurance Co. of America, 2016 WL 3911544 (Mont. July 19, 2016) the issue was whether damage to a vacation cabin from a large boulder that fell down a hillside and into the cabin structure was covered under the Safeco policy. Safeco’s policy contained an earth movement exclusion in which “earth movement” was defined as the “shrinking, rising, shifting, expanding, or contracting of the earth.” Examples given in the policy included earthquake, landslide, mudflow, mudslide, sinkhole, subsidence and erosion. The Montana Supreme Court held that the earth movement exclusion was not limited to damages caused by soil movement and it was broad enough to include damage from a falling boulder. There was no basis to separate rocks from soil for purposes of application of the exclusion. The policy included landslides as an example of earth movement without mentioning soil. The court found that a common understanding of the term “landslide” included a large boulder that came down the hill and onto plaintiff’s cabin.
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