Skip to Main Content
Services Talent Knowledge
Site Search


Our attorneys stay on top of changes in legislation, agency regulations, case law, and industry trends—then craft timely legal alerts to keep clients up to date on legal developments important to their business.

July 2, 2019

Second Circuit Determines Gradual Deterioration of Walls Was Not a Covered Collapse Under Homeowner's Policy

In Carlson v. Allstate Ins. Co., Lees v. Allstate Ins. Co., and Valls v. Allstate Ins. Co., the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, applying Connecticut law, recently determined there was no coverage under the collapse provision of a property insurance policy where the alleged loss was caused by the gradual deterioration of basement walls without a sudden or abrupt collapse event.

The issue in the three lawsuits, which have been referred to as the “crumbling concrete cases,” was whether the policies issued by Allstate (collectively, “the policy”) afforded coverage to Connecticut homeowners for the repair of basement walls that showed horizontal and vertical cracks but remained standing. The homes were constructed with allegedly defective concrete.

The homeowners filed claims with Allstate for the cost to repair the cracks in their respective basement foundations. Allstate declined coverage, and the insureds sued for a declaratory judgment, claiming the damage was caused by a covered “collapse” under the policy.

The policy was an “all-risk” policy that generally excluded collapse but contained an “additional protection” provision that provided coverage for the “entire collapse” of the building. The policy defined entire collapse as “a sudden and accidental direct physical loss” caused by hidden decay of the building structure or defective materials used in construction. The court granted Allstate’s motions to dismiss the lawsuits on the basis that the subject collapses were not covered under the policy since the subject losses did not constitute an entire collapse.

On appeal, the Second Circuit affirmed the dismissals. Applying Connecticut law, the court determined the gradual deterioration of the insureds’ basement walls was not a covered collapse under the policy. The court reasoned that since the policy explicitly defined collapse as a “sudden” event, the court was limited to the plain meaning of those terms in determining whether coverage existed. The court concluded the gradual erosion of the condition of the basement walls was not necessarily sudden or abrupt, and, therefore, under the narrow definition of collapse in the policy, no coverage was afforded. Finally, the court pointed out that although there may be coverage under the policy for gradual decay, there is only coverage under those circumstances if the gradual damage results in an entire collapse.

Although the Second Circuit’s holding is expressly limited to cases governed by Connecticut state law, it could have significant precedential value since the language in the Allstate policy for “collapse” coverage is similar to many other homeowners’ policies. Homeowners in Connecticut, as well as their insurers, should be aware of this decision.

If you have any questions regarding the content of this alert, please contact Arianna Kwiatkowski, associate, at or another member of the firm’s Insurance Coverage & Regulation Practice Area.


Click here to sign up for alerts, blog posts, and firm news.

Featured Media


NYS Siting Board Grants Developer's Petition for Relief From County's Unreasonable Delay


Horseback Rider Assumes Risk of "Green Broke" Horse


New York Adult Survivors Act Set to Expire


NYS Appellate Court Reverses in Favor of Policyholder in Ensuing Loss Case


Temporary Health Care Staffing Agencies Can No Longer Charge for Hiring Their Personnel


The First Department Addresses When a Party Is Entitled to Treble Damages Pursuant to Judiciary Law §487

This site uses cookies to give you the best experience possible on our site and in some cases direct advertisements to you based upon your use of our site.

By clicking [I agree], you are agreeing to our use of cookies. For information on what cookies we use and how to manage our use of cookies, please visit our Privacy Statement.

I AgreeOpt-Out