The California Insurance Code mandates if a property insurance policy requires actual cash value payment, the payment must be based on the property’s depreciation for two types of claims: (1) a partial loss to a structure, i.e., a home or building and (2) damaged contents, i.e., personal property or business personal property.1 Fortunately, there is guidance on how depreciation is applied. Cal. Ins. Code § 2051 states actual cash value is the amount it would cost the insured to repair, rebuild, or replace the damaged property less a fair and reasonable deduction for physical depreciation based upon the property’s condition at the time of the injury or the policy limit, whichever is less.
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When you write things for the public, mistakes and opposite views will be pointed out. The public nature of blogging is a relatively new experience for me. I speak, write, and advocate in private all the time. Indeed, most of what I do on behalf of clients is very private. Further, some public matters and cases later become private matters much to the chagrin of third parties. So, regarding this Blog, I appreciate comments that point out when I am wrong or when there is a differing opinion or explanation.


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My presentation at NAPIA’s Annual Meeting was titled, "The Legal, Ethical, and Practical Adjustment Issues from Windstorm Claims to Walls, Windows and Roofs." I asked three others, New York attorney Jonathan Wilkofsky, New York public adjuster Ron Papa, and Maryland public adjuster Randy Goodman, to participate as an expert panel on these adjustment issues. I have found that this type of presentation keeps the audience involved with dialogue, questions and differing views and emphasis. It was a high level nuts and bolts analysis of adjustment issues that occur regularly in windstorm claims.


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On June 4, 2009, Merlin Law Group will host the second in a series of seminars for Texas-licensed public adjusters: Texas Hold ‘Em #2—Down to the Nitty Gritty of Adjustment—Nine Months After Ike, at the Hotel Derek in Houston, Texas. Response to the first seminar was very favorable with many public adjusters asking when we would do it again.


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One wrongful adjustment method that occurs from time to time is the practice of taking the deductible from the policy limit. For insurers, this is a way to never pay the policy limit. When this occurs, the underwriter essentially charges unearned premium for the amount of the deductible, and the policyholder never has a chance to fully recover under the policy. Sometimes the practice occurs out of ignorance. Some just take advantage of the unknowing policyholder.


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I am certain some insurance Texas adjusters are going to be surprised to learn that Texas case law has held that when a partial loss happens, depreciation SHOULD NOT be deducted from the loss. I mention this due to the hundreds of loss statements prepared by insurance company representatives where depreciation is routinely deducted.


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