In an order dated March 2, 2011, the Circuit Court in Hillsborough County ruled that damage caused to a home by Chinese Drywall was covered under a standard Florida homeowners insurance policy. The Court further determined that policy exclusions for "wear and tear" and "errors, omissions, and defects" did not apply.
While the coverage for the dwelling itself is covered under the "all-risk" portion of the policy, damage to personal property in the dwelling is only covered if it is damaged by a "named peril." "Smoke" was a named peril in the policy (as in all standard Florida homeowners policies). Smoke is not defined in the policy, so the court utilized a dictionary definition of smoke. Merriam-Webster defines smoke as "a suspension of particles in an gas." The Court then found that the sulfur particles contained in the "off-gassing" caused by the Chinese Drywall constitutes "smoke" under the policy. Accordingly, the Court held that the damage to the insureds’ personal property was covered under the policy.
A copy of the Court’s decision can be downloaded by clicking here.
This policy did not contain a pollution exclusion. It is unclear how that particular exclusion would have played out in this case.