what is concurrent causation

September 12, 2023

Concurrent Causation in Insurance: What It Means for Your Claim

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In the intricate world of insurance, understanding the nuances of terms and theories is crucial for both policyholders and professionals alike. One such term that often surfaces, especially in the realm of claims, is “concurrent causation.” While it might sound complex, its implications can significantly impact the outcome of an insurance claim. This article aims to demystify the concept of concurrent causation, shedding light on its various facets and what it means for your insurance claim. Whether you’re a policyholder trying to navigate the complexities of your insurance policy or a professional seeking clarity, this guide will provide a comprehensive overview of concurrent causation and its relevance in the insurance industry.

What is the Concurrent Causation Theory?

At its core, the concurrent causation theory revolves around the idea that when two or more perils converge, leading to a loss, and at least one of those perils is covered by an insurance policy, then the loss should be covered, even if the other peril(s) are excluded. In simpler terms, if a covered and an uncovered risk both contribute to a loss, the insurance policy should still pay out.

For instance, consider a scenario where a homeowner’s property is damaged due to both flooding (an excluded peril in many standard homeowner’s policies) and wind (a covered peril). If it’s determined that both these events played a role in the damage, the concurrent causation theory would argue that the claim should be honored, despite flooding typically being an excluded peril.

This theory has been a topic of debate and litigation, as it challenges the traditional approach to determining coverage based on the predominant or efficient cause of loss. It underscores the importance of understanding the intricacies of one’s insurance policy and the potential implications of concurrent events leading to a claim.

Understanding ‘Concurrent’ in Insurance

The term ‘concurrent’ in insurance refers to simultaneous events or causes that lead to a loss or damage. In the context of insurance claims, when two or more events occur at the same time or in a sequence and result in a loss, they are considered concurrent. This becomes especially relevant when determining the cause of the loss and whether the policy covers it.

For example, imagine a situation where a building is weakened by an earthquake (a covered peril) and subsequently gets damaged by a flood (often an excluded peril). If both these events are deemed to have contributed to the loss, they are viewed as concurrent causes.

It’s essential for policyholders to recognize that not all insurance policies treat concurrent causes the same way. Some policies might cover the loss if any of the concurrent causes are covered (as per the concurrent causation theory), while others might exclude the loss entirely if any of the concurrent causes are excluded. This distinction can significantly impact the outcome of a claim, making it vital for policyholders to be well-informed about their policy’s stance on concurrent events.

Diving Deeper: Types and Examples

Concurrent Injury

A concurrent injury refers to two or more injuries occurring simultaneously or in close succession, often complicating the determination of liability or coverage. For instance, if an individual suffers a leg injury in a car accident and then further injures the same leg in a subsequent slip and fall, determining the extent and cause of each injury can be challenging. In insurance terms, this could affect the amount of compensation or the responsibility of each event’s insurer.

Independent Concurrent Causation

Independent concurrent causation involves two or more independent causes leading to a single loss. These causes might occur simultaneously or one after the other, but they are unrelated in origin. An example could be a house simultaneously damaged by an earthquake and a fire from a separate source. Even if one of these causes isn’t covered by the policy, the loss might still be covered due to the presence of a covered peril.

Concurrent Cause in Criminal Justice

While our primary focus is on insurance, it’s worth noting that the concept of concurrent causation also finds relevance in criminal justice. Here, it pertains to situations where two or more independent acts lead to a single harm or outcome. Determining liability or responsibility in such cases can be complex, as each act might have played a role in the final outcome.

Example of Anti-Concurrent Causation

Anti-concurrent causation is a clause found in some insurance policies that excludes coverage when a covered peril and an excluded peril simultaneously cause a loss. For instance, if a policy has an anti-concurrent causation clause and a home is damaged by both wind (covered) and flood (excluded), the policy might not pay out, even if the wind damage would have been covered on its own.

Concurrent Claim

A concurrent claim arises when a policyholder files for compensation for a loss that has been caused by multiple perils, especially when these perils occur around the same time. This type of claim can be particularly challenging for insurance adjusters, as they must determine the extent of damage caused by each peril and how the policy’s terms apply. For example, if a business suffers damage from both a fire and a subsequent looting incident during a civil disturbance, the insurance company would need to assess the damages attributable to each event and determine coverage accordingly.

Multiple Concurrent Causation

This refers to situations where more than two perils contribute to a loss. It’s a complex scenario that often requires meticulous investigation to ascertain the role of each peril. An example might be a property that suffers damage from a storm, followed by flooding, and then a landslide. Each of these events contributes to the overall damage, and the insurance company must evaluate the policy’s terms to determine the coverage for such multifaceted losses.

Implications for Policyholders

Understanding the nuances of concurrent causation is not just a matter of academic interest; it has real-world implications for policyholders. Recognizing how different events can interplay and affect a claim can be the difference between a claim being accepted or denied. Moreover, being aware of terms like “anti-concurrent causation” can guide individuals when purchasing insurance, ensuring they opt for policies that offer the most comprehensive protection. As the landscape of risks evolves, with climate change introducing more frequent and severe weather events, the relevance of concurrent causation in insurance is only set to grow.


What does “concurrent causation” mean in insurance?

Concurrent causation refers to situations where two or more perils or events lead to a loss or damage, and at least one of those perils is covered by an insurance policy. In such cases, the loss may be covered even if one of the contributing perils is excluded from the policy.

How does the anti-concurrent causation clause affect my claim?

An anti-concurrent causation clause in an insurance policy specifies that if a covered peril and an excluded peril both contribute to a loss, the entire loss may be excluded from coverage. This means that even if one of the causes of damage is covered by your policy, you might not receive compensation if an excluded peril also played a role.

Why is understanding concurrent causation important for policyholders?

Understanding concurrent causation is crucial because it can significantly impact the outcome of an insurance claim. Being aware of how your policy addresses multiple causes of loss can help you anticipate potential challenges and ensure you receive the coverage you’re entitled to.

How do insurance companies determine the primary cause of a loss in concurrent causation scenarios?

Insurance companies often use the “efficient proximate cause” rule, which identifies the primary or initiating event that set off the chain of events leading to the loss. If this primary cause is covered under the policy, the loss may be covered, even if subsequent events or perils are excluded.

Can I challenge an insurance company’s decision regarding concurrent causation?

Yes, policyholders can challenge an insurance company’s decision, especially if they believe the claim was unjustly denied based on concurrent causation. It’s advisable to consult with legal or insurance experts, like Callender Bowlin, to understand your rights and the best course of action.


Navigating the complexities of insurance claims can often feel like a daunting task. Terms like “concurrent causation” and “anti-concurrent causation” might seem esoteric, but understanding them can significantly influence the outcome of a claim. As we’ve explored, multiple events or perils can converge, leading to a loss. Knowing how your policy addresses such scenarios can be the difference between a smooth claim process and potential disputes.

For policyholders, the key takeaway is to be proactive. Regularly review your insurance policies, ask questions, and ensure you’re adequately covered for a range of scenarios. And remember, insurance isn’t just about protection; it’s about peace of mind.

If you have questions about your policy, or if you’re facing challenges with a claim that involves concurrent causation, don’t navigate these waters alone. Reach out to the insightful lawyers at Callender Bowlin for guidance and support. Our team is here to help, ensuring you get the coverage you deserve. Contact us today at (713) 364-1128.