While I acknowledge Clift v. Fulton Fire Insurance Company, 315 S.W.2d 9 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1958), cert. denied, provides a rule for allowing valuation of property under a somewhat “elastic” standard of “value to the owner,” this ambiguous standard should not apply where the valuation provisions of property coverage are specifically set forth in the policy. For instance, most policy provisions now provide that valuation will be based upon an “actual cash value” basis until such time as repair or replacement has occurred. Once repair or replacement has occurred, the insured may be entitled to additional amounts up to the cost of replacement (where replacement coverage is afforded). 

Older cases like Clift do not rely upon policies containing the definition of “actual cash value,” a term defined by many modern policies. That definition, widely found in policies today, is similar to the following:

“Actual Cash Value” means replacement cost less a deduction that reflects depreciation, age, condition and obsolescence.

Where similar valuation provisions exist, and particularly where component terms are defined by the policy, I think it would be error for a court to step outside of the definition and apply any other valuation measure, whether it be “value to the owner” or some other measure of damage.  Our law has long held that courts are not at liberty to rewrite an insurance policy, even where the court does not favor its terms.  Merrimack Mut. Fire Ins. Co. v. Batts, 59 S.W.3d 142, 148 (Tenn. Ct. App. 2001), perm. app. denied.