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A house is not a home unless it can be lived by humans



I Patricia Crisco, et al. v. Foremost Insurance Company Grand Rapids, Michigan, et al. No. C 19-07320 WHA, United States District Court Northern District Of California (December 4, 2020) victim of a wildfire sued her insurance company and claimed total loss for her RVs due to the park's infrastructure being destroyed by the fire and the homes not were inhabited even though their walls were intact.

Until the fire, the ten plaintiffs owned and lived in ten campers at Journey & # 39 ;s End Mobile Home Park. in Santa Rosa. The defendants 'main insurance company Grand Rapids, Michigan and the First Insurance Company for Property and Accidents (collectively, primarily) insured the plaintiffs' homes and denied their claims because their motorhomes were still intact and were not burned but condemned because the mobile home park infrastructure was destroyed.

POLICY

The policy provided cover for direct physical loss to the homes, described as motorhomes. For a loss to the insured's home, the applicable payment method was activated if the loss was in whole or in part. The policy defined the key word as follows: “A total loss occurs when your home is damaged over reasonable repairs. When a total loss occurs, your loss will correspond to the insurance amount shown on the explanation page.

THE FIRE

When the fire occurred in October 2017, local officials ordered the residents to evacuate. The fire burned 117 of the 160 motorhomes in the park and destroyed the infrastructure for electricity, gas, sewage and drinking water that served the plaintiff's motorhomes. That infrastructure was owned and controlled by motorhome park owners. The parties agreed and testified that "[a] is a direct result of the fire, that the insured's homes lost access to running water, sewage, electricity, gas and heat." First, it was argued that the plaintiff's motorhomes did not suffer any direct damage from the fire.

The city of Santa Rosa posted messages explaining that although some homes still remain, the property is reportedly uninhabitable.

Later, the California Department of Housing and Community Development issued an inspection report on the construction of the RV park indicating that the remaining units were uninhabitable due to the destruction of the park's infrastructure.

About five of the remaining unburned 44 motorhomes have been removed from the Park for use at another location. However, based on their condition, the remaining motorhomes cannot be moved and, given their age, they will probably not be accepted by another motorhome park.

The complainants' motorhomes are among the 39 that remained on the property. . In oral arguments, the adviser explained that the homes have since been removed and destroyed. By letter, the complainant first informed that it had established that there had been no direct, sudden and unintentional physical loss of housing, separate structures or personal property of any plaintiff who had not already been paid for to the extent permitted by policy language.

ANALYSIS

Under California law, which applies here, the interpretation of an insurance contract is a matter of law. The cross-proposals only address one question: whether the plaintiff has benefits for "total loss" under coverage A of the principal insurances. Coverage A insures the risk of "immediate, sudden and unintentional physical loss to the" insured property. The plaintiff claims that the plaintiff must, but does not, be able to show physical damage to the insured property, while the plaintiff claims that a physical loss can also be shown if the structure becomes uninhabitable or substantially unusable.

A direct physical loss outweighs an actual change in the insured. property then in a satisfactory condition, caused by an accident or other accident directly on the property that makes it unsatisfactory for future use or requires repairs to be made to do so. The word "direct" used in combination with the word "physical" indicates that the change in the insured property must take place because the accident affects the coverage. In order for loss to be covered, there must be a "clear, demonstrable, physical change" of the property.

According to the facts stated, "

First of all, the court wanted to believe that damage to the motorhome park is not relevant to the issue of coverage, the court agreed, at least in part, that the value of a motorhome is derived from the fact that it is located in a motorhome park. Here, the plaintiff's motorhomes could not be moved to another park due to their age and condition. The district court therefore concluded that they were a total loss. First issued the policy to homeowners. It knew or should have known of the risk it took.

While the infrastructure belonged to the park, it was physically connected to the devices it served. The fire destroyed the infrastructure that is a necessary part of turning a motorhome into a home. The lack of sewage, electricity, water and gas in the unit itself. The fire directly, suddenly and accidentally destroyed the plaintiff's home by destroying the essential infrastructure for the entire park. By reading the term "direct physical loss" in its context and referring to the mobile insurance policy as a whole, the district court owner found that the fire caused a "clear, demonstrable, physical change" of the property, which triggered coverage

Above all argued that California law supports that deny the plaintiff the benefits of their insurance policies. The complainants do not try to recover repair costs, loss of income or even damages for their loss of use while they could not live in their homes. Rather, the plaintiff is trying to recover from the loss of his insured homes. The fire caused a clear, demonstrable, physical change in the insured homes. The fire destroyed the infrastructure and the plaintiff's home was destroyed just as suddenly, as directly and as unintentionally as those who were immediately burned by the fire, because the fire destroyed the vitality of the entire park.

The tool infrastructure is physically interconnected with the devices it served.

The Court spoke mainly when it concluded that “

Disasters, such as the wildfire that destroyed the motorhome park where the plaintiff's home was located, result in strange decisions by insurers and courts. In this case, the motorhomes were not destroyed by fire but were destroyed by the wildfire that eliminated the infrastructure needed to make them a home. Even though they were still standing, if their walls were intact and the paint was still sticking to the walls, they were not home because they could not live in. Standing on a technical and even trying to use a decision of the Supreme Court of California, Hughes v . Potomac Ins . Co . of District of Columbia 199 Cal. App. 2d 239, 248-49 (1962) which did not support the plaintiffs, not first because it held a house at the edge of a cliff that was still intact was completely destroyed, was unwise.


© 2020 – Barry Zalma [19659003] Barry Zalma, Esq., CFE, now limits his practice to working as an insurance consultant specializing in insurance coverage, insurance claims handling, infidelity and insurance fraud almost equally for insurance companies and insurance companies. He also acts as an arbitrator or mediator for insurance-related disputes. He practiced law in California for more than 44 years as an insurance coverage and claims lawyer and more than 52 years in the insurance industry. He is available at http://www.zalma.com and zalma@zalma.com.

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