It’s important to be aware of personal property and loss of use as they are laid out in California state law. If you ever lose your home due to a natural disaster, you’ll need to understand how the claims process works so you can ensure you receive the insurance payout that you deserve. Insurance companies are notorious for attempting to pay out less than victims deserve, so familiarizing yourself with the details will be helpful should you ever find yourself in this situation.
What is Considered Personal Property On A Homeowners Insurance Policy?
Personal property refers to mostly just about anything you possess. Animals, credit cards, your car, and other property insured outside of your homeowners’ policy will not be covered should you lose your home to a natural disaster.
Under Coverage C or your homeowners policy, your amount of coverage is limited by the dollar amount listed here. This amount is typically a percentage of the amount of coverage listed for your home under Coverage A.
How Is Damage To Personal Property Calculated?
If your personal property is destroyed in a natural disaster, you are entitled to the actual case value of the personal property that is, in fact, covered under your homeowner’s insurance policy. In the state of California, state courts generally understand that this refers to fair market value. If your home was destroyed, the damages will then be calculated in accordance to what your home would be valued at in the present real estate market.
If a natural disaster occurred and your home was not entirely destroyed by the events, you as the homeowner are entitled to the estimated cost for repairing or replacing the damaged personal property. This information is broken down in California Insurance Code section 2051(b).
The value of your personal property will be adjusted by your insurance company for depreciation. Depreciation adjustments will show a difference based upon the age and working condition of the property that was damaged.
If your homeowner’s insurance policy includes replacement cost coverage, you will be reimbursed for what it would cost to purchase the damaged personal property if it were all new in the current market. With replacement cost coverage, in other words, there is no deduction to account for value depreciation over the years.
What Is Loss Of Use?
When your home becomes uninhabitable following destruction from a natural disaster, it loses its use. Loss of Use refers to the reasonable and necessary uptick in living expenses you incurred while your home was uninhabitable. This information is available under Coverage D of your homeowners insurance policy.
You can only leverage the Loss of Use policy for as long as your home is truly unable to be inhabited. Some homeowners insurance carriers specifically lay out what they consider to be uninhabitable in your policy, but not all do, which leaves the conditions up for interpretation. Generally speaking, if the basic functions of habitable shelter aren’t available, such as cooking and bathing, or the space is unsafe, your house is considered uninhabitable by your insurance company. The length of time it takes to rebuild or repair damage after the natural disaster is not included under Loss of Use.
Sometimes, insurance companies attempt to pay out far less than innocent victims deserve when they lose their house due to natural disasters. Some insurers will argue that the house was inhabitable when it truly wasn’t, and will subsequently pay you less than you deserve. This is referred to as operating in bad faith. If your insurance company has acted in bad faith, you can sue for the benefits owed to you.
Why Do I Need A Lawyer If I’ve Lost My Home In A Natural Disaster?
With over 70 years of experience, the McKennon Law Group has specialized in long-term disability and short-term disability insurance, life insurance, health insurance, accidental death insurance, and long-term care claims, as well as all types of ERISA litigation claims involving employee benefits, including group insurance claims, pension claims and severance claims.
If you or a loved one has lost their home in a natural disaster, you need the help of skilled litigators who have extensive experience dealing with insurance companies in these catastrophic situations. WIthout a knowledgeable attorney by your side, you run the risk of receiving far less insurance money than you deserve. Insurance companies are notorious for trying to pay out the least possible amount of money in their claims and, without an attorney, you may be stuck settling for less than you really need.