California Property Damage Law: Personal Property and Loss of Use

The worst is not,

So long as we can say, “This is the worst.”  -Shakespeare

 

Introduction

Nature devastates.

Perhaps fire, wind, or water devastated your home. If so, here are things to know about personal property and loss of use. This post only addresses homeowners policies.

 

Personal Property

This refers to your “stuff.” Your car, however, is not covered. Animals, credit cards, or personal property insured under another policy are also not covered. Personal property coverage under your homeowners policy is worldwide; your personal property does not have to be at your home to be covered.

Personal property coverage is available under Coverage C of your homeowners policy. The amount of available coverage is limited by the dollar amount listed under Coverage C on the declarations page of your homeowners policy. That amount is generally a percentage of the amount of coverage listed for your home under Coverage A.

 

Measure of Damages for Property Loss in California: Personal Property

You are entitled to actual cash value of your covered personal property. California courts typically understand that to mean fair market value. If your home was not entirely destroyed, however, then you are entitled to the cost to repair or replace the damaged personal property minus less a fair deduction for depreciation. See California Insurance Code section 2051(b).

Depreciation adjustments must show a difference based on the condition and age of the property. And they only apply to property normally subject to repair and replacement during the useful life of the property. See 10 Cal Code Regs section 2695.9(f).

If you have replacement cost coverage, then you are reimbursed for what it would cost you to buy the damaged personal property new. In other words, there’s no deduction for depreciation. See California Insurance Code section 2051.5(a).

 

Loss of Use

Loss of Use refers to the necessary increase in living expenses you incurred while your home was uninhabitable. It is available under Coverage D of your homeowners policy.

Loss of Use is only available for as long as your home is uninhabitable. Some homeowners policies define “uninhabitable,” but others do not. The time to repair or rebuild structural damage is not central. Instead, the focus is whether or not is home is uninhabitable. If it is, you are entitled to Loss of Use.

 

Measure of Damages for Property Loss in California: Loss of Use

You are generally entitled to additional living expenses actually incurred, subject to the policy limits of Loss of Use (if any) or to a certain time period.

 

Conclusion

Consult with a San Diego Property Damage Attorney if your home was damaged so he or she can advise you on the correct measure of damages for your property loss in California.

Questions? Contact Me for a free consultation.

Evan Walker

Evan W. Walker is a La Jolla attorney who has practiced law since 2008. He has practiced law throughout California, Connecticut, and Louisiana.

Evan worked for and defended insurance companies during the first 7 years of his practice. Since 2015, he has represented people with personal injury and property damage claims and insurance disputes.

Evan’s practice is devoted to serious personal injury claims and catastrophic property damage claims. Areas of focus include security claims against bars and other businesses, government tort claims, fire and flood claims, and inverse condemnation. On behalf of clients, Evan has fought insurance firms, international companies, cities, bars, and casinos.

Evan regularly shares his expertise with other attorneys by teaching courses on insurance and inverse condemnation. He has taught several continuing legal education courses to Attorney Credits, a nationwide CLE company, and ProLawCLE, another nationwide CLE company. He also contributes to various podcasts and publications.

Associations:

  • Member, State Bar of California
  • Member, San Diego Bar Association
  • Member, Consumer Attorneys of California
  • Member, Consumer Attorneys of San Diego
  • Member, La Jolla Bar Association
  • Member, La Jolla Village Merchants Association
  • Member, San Diego Chamber of Commerce