Answering a certified question, the South Carolina Supreme Court held that the insurer could calculate actual cash value (ACV) by including an estimate of the depreciation of embedded labor costs. Butler v. Travelers Home & Marine Ins. Co., 2021 S. C. LEXIS 51 (S.C. May 12, 2021).
Two insureds had their homes damaged in separate fires. Each held homeowners' policies with Travelers. The policies provided replacement cost value coverage to repair or replace damaged portions of homes. In the event that the insures chose not to immediately repair or replace the damaged home, the policies afforded payment to the insured for the actual cash value instead of replacement cost value. Both insured elected not to immediately repair or replace their homes, thereby deciding to accept a cash payment for the ACV of the damaged property. Neither was satisfied with the payment and both filed suit in federal district court.
Travelers determined the ACV payment by estimating the replacement cost value (RCV) of the damage and then subtracting depreciation. The certified question presented by the federal district court was whether Travelers could depreciate the labor component of the costs of repair or replacement when determining the ACV.