Typically, I am drawn by current events to look at certain states’ total loss standards. Last week I reviewed New Jersey case law in the wake of Superstorm Sandy, in an attempt to assist policyholders and public adjusters tasked with sifting their way through complicated insurance claims. Several weeks ago, I wrote about New York’s standard after reading an article about the Big Apple.
This week, while reading and thinking about the ongoing troubles in the Northeast and planning my trip to New Jersey and New York for Merlin Law Group’s public adjuster seminar, I began to think about what people were doing to inspire themselves to keep moving forward through this trying time. I remember being inspired by certain speeches in movies. One of the most applicable speeches that I could think of, was Gene Hackman’s speech from Hoosiers.
It is a classic that will forever be remembered by many. It works here. Gene Hackman’s team is facing a team with bigger, faster, stronger, and better, players who have more money and fancy uniforms. This is not unlike policyholders going up against the insurance industry in a time of major devastation. Insurance companies have all the money, the experience, the know-how. They have the fancy uniforms, they are bigger, stronger and more well versed on the policy language. However, even a small team can bring down a more powerful one with enough determination and grit.
I was inspired by watching Hoosiers clips to take a look into the Hoosier State’s total loss standard.
Indiana seems to use several tests. One is the “Identity Test” where,
A structure is a total loss if it has lost its identity and specific character as a building, although a portion of the materials or component parts remain standing and may be useful for some purpose.1
Another is the “restoration-to-use test,” which states,
A loss is total if a reasonably prudent owner would not use what remains after a fire as a basis for restoring a structure to its pre-loss condition.2
If you have been following in past weeks, this is also called the reasonable person test.
Indiana has also looked at total loss in the tort arena to apply to contractual issues typically found in insurance disputes.
This court has defined permanent injury to tortiously damaged real property as one wherein the cost of restoration exceeds the market value of the building prior to the injury.3
1 Ohio Cas. Ins. Co. v. Ramsey, 439 N.E. 2d 1162 (Ind. Ct. App. 1982).