Burden of Proof is on Insured to Prove its Claim Falls within Coverage of Insurance Policy

In Delta Technical Products Laboratory Investment Recovery Inc. v. Hartford Casualty Insurance Company, Delta, a manufacturer of scientific equipment, leased a building in Des Plaines, Illinois. Delta brought suit against Hartford, its commercial insurance provider, after Hartford denied a claim for $1,496,300 in business personal property damage which Delta incurred after a rainstorm.

Delta alleged that Hartford determined the damages and loss were caused by flooding due to substantial rains which fell from September 12 to 14, 2008, and that Delta’s policy did not cover flood damage. Delta alleged that the damage was caused by sewer backup, and the sewer and drain backup endorsement provided coverage. It also asserted that the backup was due to the City of Des Plaines closing a storm sewer valve. Hartford argues, as a defense, that an exclusion in the policy states it will not pay for loss or damage caused by flood or water that backs up from a sewer or drain. In addition, Hartford argued that Delta’s claim was barred by the endorsement.

The court reviewed whether the damage to the business personal property was covered under the insurance policy as it was caused by sanitary sewer blockage.

Under Illinois law, the burden of proof is on the insured to prove that its claim falls within the coverage of an insurance policy. As Delta claimed coverage under the sewer and drain back up endorsement, it was rightfully its burden to establish coverage. The court concluded that Delta has not established that the claim fell within the terms of the policy.

Delta Technical Prods. Lab. Inv. Recovery, Inc. v. Hartford Cas. Ins. Co., 2014 IL App (1st) 122158.