One year after Hurricane Katrina made landfall, the U.S. District Court of Southern Mississippi has dismissed a lawsuit that contended a Nationwide insurance agent misled a policyholder into believing his homeowners’ policy would cover flood damage. The decision also reinforced what many industry experts believe is a clear exclusion for flooding and storm surge in standard homeowners’ insurance policies.

In Leonard v. Nationwide Mutual Insurance, at issue was coverage relating to the significant storm surge that occurred as a result of Katrina making landfall. The surge was so severe that it drastically damaged many residential properties located outside of Mississippi’s designated flood plain area that requires flood insurance as part of homeowners’ lending agreements. Some homeowners outside this designated area believed that they were not at risk or that damages would be covered by their homeowners’ insurance policies, even though exclusions for such damage are expressly stated in their policies.

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