In a comment to my post last week, Rick Kuklenski asked me about Missouri. To oblige him, I turn this week’s discussion of “Total Loss” to the Show Me State.
Once again, Missouri’s total loss standard is tied to fire losses. The general standard used in Missouri is the “Prudent Owner” test. However, Missouri’s interpretation is more similar to Florida’s standard, which you can read about in What Constitutes a Total Loss in Florida.
Missouri courts have held,
Under the doctrine of constructive total loss, there is a total loss by fire if the building is so damaged that no substantial remnant remains that a prudent uninsured person would use on rebuilding.1
The same court extended this holding by stating,
If repair or reconstruction of a building damaged by fire is prohibited by municipal authorities acting under proper authority of law, recovery may be had by the insured as for a total loss; this is a total fire loss by operation of law.
Missouri is a “Valued Policy State,” which means:
In case of total loss of the property insured, the measure of damage shall be the amount for which the same was insured, less whatever depreciation in value, below the amount for which the property is insured, the property may have sustained between the time of issuing the policy and the time of the loss, and the burden of proving such depreciation shall be upon the defendant.2
1 Stahlberg v. The Travelers Indemnity Co., 568 S.W. 2d 79, 84 (Mo. App. 1978).
2 V.A.M.S. §379.140.