The California federal district court case of KB Home v. Illinois Union Insurance Co., No. 8:20-cv-00278-JLS-JDE, (C.D. Cal. August 23, 2022), provides much needed guidance for cases involving builder's risk insurance claims for soft cost coverage.
The case stems from damage to several of KB Home’s residential building sites caused by a severe rainstorm in January 2017. Each home site was a smaller part of a large housing development project. The damage caused significant delay in the completion of some individual home sites, although there was limited evidence of delay to the overall housing development project.
As a result, KB Home sought coverage under a builder’s risk policy purchased from Illinois Union for both hard costs and soft costs. “Hard costs” are the costs directly associated with repairing property damage to the sites. Conversely, “soft costs” are indirect expenses associated with project delays caused by such property damage and repair efforts. For example, hard costs would include labor and materials, whereas the soft costs claimed by KB Home included additional real estate taxes, construction loan interest, and advertising and promotional expenses incurred because of the delays. Illinois Union paid the claim for the hard costs, but denied the soft costs claim. KB Home filed suit and Illinois Union eventually filed a motion for summary judgment.