"Act of God" clause in warranties/insurance

In a recent Billy Connolly movie, The Man Who Sued God, they said that large numbers of insurance claims had been classified as “acts of God” and therefore they were dismissed. Well I’m skeptical that anything could be called an “act of God”.
Anyway, has there ever been a company handling warranties or insurance that has decided that something was an “act of God”? Or was that movie just making that part up about insurance companies using that excuse a lot?

When a tree fell on our shed the insurance company used that reason on us. We pressed them some
more & they eventually gave in & paid.,

This happened to our family when my father died. He had a heart attack while driving his car, and the passengers were injured in the resulting crash. When they made a claim against my father’s medical benefit of his car insurance, the claim was denied under the “act of God” clause. The reasoning was that because a heart attack is not a result of negligence, my father was not liable for the accident, therefore the insurance company didn’t have to pay. We ended up in the peculiar position of helping our friends sue my mother, and finally forced the insurance company to pay. This was not some fly-by-night insurance company either, it was AAA!! Goddamn all insurance companies to Hell!!

I think there is a rumor that insurance companies always say ‘no’ at first. I asked an agent about
that & she said it’s not so. But from personal experience, it happens sometimes to me.

An “act of God” is a pretty well-established legal phrase for “an extraordinary natural event (as a flood or earthquake) that cannot be reasonably foreseen or prevented”; it’s often used in state legal codes and the like.

Of course, you might very well buy insurance precisely to protect yourself against the consequences of “acts of God” (i.e., flood or earthquake insurance); it’s just a question of what the policy covers and what it doesn’t. (I remember reading through an old renter’s insurance policy of mine, and discovering that the policy did not cover damage or losses from acts of war–and that someone had actually taken the time to specify that the discharge of a nuclear weapon, even if accidental, would be considered an act of war under the terms of my policy. On the other hand, IIRC I was insured against having an aircraft crash into my apartment building and the policy specified that spacecraft were covered under that clause. So, if the Russians had accidentally launched an ICBM at Washington, D.C., and it had hit my building, I’d have been covered if the warhead wasn’t armed, but if the warhead went off, I would have been S.O.L.)

Well in the movie Billy Connolly points out that saying an “act of God” is misleading, blasphemous and very vague and subjective. He said that the company that insured the Titanic even paid out.

“an extraordinary natural event (as a flood or earthquake) that cannot be reasonably foreseen or prevented”;

I thought the idea of insurance is to cover for unexpected events - if you were certain that something was going to happen (like a car crash) then it sounds like a scam. And I thought “God” would refer to unnatural miraculous things.

By that definition, it doesn’t sound like a tree falling over is an act of God, since it isn’t very “extraordinary”. And a heart attack while driving isn’t a natural event similar to a flood or an earthquake. It is a health-related thing.

I think they should just say “extraordinary event” rather than “act of God”. But any place that has earthquakes or floods would have a history of them so they aren’t that amazing.

Anyway, it is surprising that insurance companies have called things “acts of God”…

Some years ago (I’d have to dig through my records to be sure when) our house was struck by lightning. It blew some shingles off the roof and fried some of my electronics (computer modem, answering machine & a VCR IIRC). I had no trouble with the insurance company paying for the roof repair and replacing the damaged equipment (I had full replacement cost coverage).
However, a year or two later I changed insurance companies for financial reasons. After signing the paperwork and paying the premium, I received a notice from the company’s underwriting department cancelling the policy; they gave as a reason that there was no evidence that I had taken action to prevent a recurrence of events resulting in a previous claim - referring to the lightning strike.
I called the underwriting department to ask for an explanation and was essentially told that my only option was to file a protest with the state insurance office, but that the cancellation was perfectly legal. I asked him what action I was expected to have taken to ensure that the house was never struck by lightning again - filed a restraining order against Mother Nature?
I found another insurance company which seemed to have a more realistic view of things.

Many moons ago, a friend of mine was part of an informal crew that was hired to put up tents for a large function. A storm brewed up and blew down the tents … which left the crew-members with the task of calling every source of meteorological data in the vicinity. If the wind speed was more than X (I forget the value of X) then it was an Act of God and they’d get paid … less than X and it was plain incompetence and they wouldn’t.

You might not be able to stop lightning striking but you can certainly minimise the damage. Installing surge protectors and a lightning rod would be some steps I could think of.

Where do you think is their head office? :rolleyes: