Legal Memorandum: "Breakdown" of an Insured Vehicle

Issue: Under California insurance law, what is a ‘breakdown’ of an insured vehicle?

Area of Law: Insurance Law
Keywords: Insured vehicle; Breakdown
Jurisdiction: California
Cited Cases: None
Cited Statutes: None
Date: 12/01/2001

The case law is clear that to constitute a “breakdown,” the insured need not show that the listed vehicle was totally inoperable.  Transit Cas. Co. v. Giffin, (1974) 41 Cal. App. 3d. 489, 494.  The critical factor in determining whether there has been a “breakdown” is not whether the vehicle is operable but rather whether, even if operable , it “is dangerous to use in its present condition.” Id. at 494.  Thus, for example, a “breakdown” occurs when the vehicle’s tires are bald and thus unfit for normal use even though the vehicle is operable. Id.


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