The insured was sued by purchasers of his home for negligently or deliberately failing to disclose termite infestation at the time of the sale. He unsuccessfully sought cover under his homeowner insurance policy because the policy covered only property damage “due to an occurrence” whereas the property damage the purchasers experienced was not due to the alleged misrepresentation by the seller.

The policy covered damages “due to an occurrence resulting from the insured’s negligent personal acts or negligence arising out of the ownership, maintenance, or use of real or personal property”. An “occurrence” was an accident which results in either bodily injury or property damage. Bodily injury excluded “emotional distress, mental anguish, humiliation, mental distress or injury, or any similar injury unless the direct result of bodily harm”. Property damage, according to the policy was “physical injury to, destruction of or use of tangible property”. The claimants had not alleged that they suffered from any physical injury due to the misrepresentations, nor was there any property damage caused by the non-disclosure of the infestation alleged on the papers before the court. The court therefore gave judgment for the insurer which was declared not liable to provide a defence to the insured in the circumstances.

Incidentally, contrary to common belief, termites are not ants but are part of the cockroach family.

Nationwide Mutual Fire Insurance Co v Carmichael, case number 7:22-cv-00689 in the US District Court for the Northern District of Alabama