Recent District Court Case Addresses Definition of Building for Purposes of Flood Insurance

A recent U.S. District Court case has addressed what would be considered a building for purposes of flood insurance. In Ruocco v. Standard Fire Insurance Co., plaintiffs sought damages for breach of a flood insurance policy issued to them by defendant pursuant to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). In moving for summary judgment, the defendant argued that plaintiffs could not recover under the standard flood insurance policy (SFIP) issued by the defendant because the home owned by plaintiffs did not meet the definition of an insurable building.

The relevant part of the definition that defendants point to in arguing for dismissal of plaintiffs’ complaint states that one type of insurable building is a “travel trailer without wheels, built on a chassis and affixed to a permanent foundation, that is regulated under the community’s floodplain management and building ordinances or laws.” Defendants argued that because the subject property was a trailer with wheels, it is not an insurable building. Plaintiffs pointed to the part of the definition that includes as an insurable building a “manufactured home (a “manufactured home,” is also known as a mobile home, is a structure: built on a permanent chassis, transported to its site in one or more sections, and affixed to a permanent foundation)”, and argued that the subject property was a mobile home and, thus, an insurable building. The court denied the summary judgment motion, and found that specific alleged facts presented a genuine dispute of material fact as to whether the property was a “building” as defined under the SFIP.