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



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.



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.

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