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Not every insurance claim requires expert involvement. However, when a dispute arises, identifying and retaining an expert can be invaluable, not only for final resolution but in keeping a claim open and alive. For example, in Vargas v. State Farm General Insurance Company,1 the Central District of California issued an order denying State Farm’s motion for summary judgment, relying on the well-reasoned and succinctly stated opinions of Plaintiff’s expert, Sandra Watts.
Continue Reading Expert Involvement in a Dispute Can Be Beneficial at Every Mile Marker of the Claim Resolution Marathon

Last month, United Policyholders was kind enough to invite me to participate in one of the plethora of webinars/seminars/workshops it hosts, one of many free resources it offers for insurance consumers. The main topic of the presentation was homeowners’ personal property claims. This topic has a special place in my heart since my first exposure to the insurance industry was doing contents inventories with my father growing up. The webinar was a great opportunity to hear lingering questions from policyholders impacted by California wildfires in previous years.
Continue Reading Tips for Tackling Your Personal Property Claim

Many of us appreciate misdirection, deception, and technical play on words in brainteasers and riddles. The same is not usually the case when an insurer is explaining your legal rights following a devastating loss. While this blog showcases California claims, laws, and regulations, the principle for policyholders and policyholder advocates applies across the country – it pays to know your insurance claim rights.
Continue Reading Don’t Believe Everything You Read on the Internet – or Even in Your Claim Letter

If an insured suffers a loss caused by a third-party and an insurer compensates the insured, either wholly or partially, the insurer typically may subrogate the claim in an attempt to recover its payment. However, when an insured does not receive enough funds from its insurer to be made whole, typically due to underinsurance or limiting policy provisions, does the insurer or the insured have priority of funds from the responsible third-party? This is an important distinction when the third-party has limited funds available.
Continue Reading The Made Whole Doctrine in California

Take fifteen minutes today and video inventory the personal property and finishes in your home.

One of the most daunting tasks following a residential loss is creating a personal property inventory. For larger losses, the amount of time required to properly document damaged and destroyed items to recover all benefits owed under the policy may equate to a part-time job. An added hinderance to recovering all benefits owed, especially following fire damage claims, is accurately recalling the personal property you have accrued over the years.
Continue Reading How Fifteen Minutes Could Mean $15,000 or More On Your Homeowners Personal Property Claim

An Extended Replacement Cost (“ERC”) endorsement1 can be added to a policy to increase the stated limits for your dwelling/building and potentially other structures.2 In homeowners policies, this endorsement most commonly increases the stated limits 25-50%.3 The ERC endorsement is most often found in policies of property owners in areas prone to widespread natural disasters.
Continue Reading Extended Replacement Cost Coverage: A Safeguard Against Demand Surge

Many policyholders are not aware of how a coinsurance clause applies, or that it even exists, until after a loss occurs. This is an unwelcome lesson for those who those who unknowingly risked a portion of their expected insurance proceeds. Whether you have a homeowners policy,1 a commercial package policy,2 or a business owners policy,3 this is a reminder to pull it out of your drawer or ask your agent or broker about the coinsurance clause in your policy and how it applies to property damage.4
Continue Reading Coinsurance – A Reminder to Check if You Are Insured to Value

If you’re a repeat reader of the Property Insurance Coverage Law Blog, you have likely come across a reference to one of Bill Wilson’s most important policy interpretation doctrines: RTFP!1 or “Read the full policy.” But what happens when you encounter a conflict not contemplated in the policy? Or worse yet, are not aware that consumer protections exist that can assist claim handling and broaden or clarify coverage?
Continue Reading 2021 California Legislative Update: Assembly Bill 3012

In unique situations, actual cash value (“ACV”) or replacement cost (“RC”) coverage may not be the best match to meet a property owner’s needs, or even be available. Policies that provide functional replacement cost (“FRC”) valuation, or endorsements that do so, offer an alternative. This valuation method is most commonly used to insure older structures built with obsolete materials and by outdated or custom methods; structures where the RC often exceeds the market value. One ISO endorsement defines FRC as:

‘Functional replacement cost’ means the amount which it would cost to repair or replace the damaged building with less costly common construction materials and methods which are functionally equivalent to obsolete, antique or custom construction materials and methods used in the original construction of the building.1
Continue Reading Functional Replacement Cost – When Will You Encounter It and What To Be On the Lookout For