This week’s blog topic is a question I received from a reader who came across one of my prior blog posts on matching: Important Decision in Favor of Policyholders on Matching Issue.
The blog post focused on the Minnesota Supreme Court’s discussion in Cedar Bluff Townhome Condominium Association, Inc. v. American Family Mutual Insurance Company,1 regarding the duty of a property insurer to replace non-damaged property in order to achieve aesthetic matching with repaired damaged property.
Our reader was curious as to how West Virginia addresses matching of siding in a homeowner’s claim when only part of the property is damaged, and the insurance carrier cannot match the existing property.
Matching is not one of the most clear-cut issues in dealing with first-party property insurance coverage. Many states have statutes, insurance bulletins or case law that directly address matching issues but many do not. West Virginia does not have a specific statute addressing matching or a state insurance regulation or bulletins. Since there is not a clear-cut rule in West Virginia, it will come down to what the policy says, including all endorsements. In West Virginia, insurance contract interpretation rules will be applicable. When reasonable people can differ about the meaning of an insurance contract, the contract is ambiguous, and all ambiguities will be construed in favor of the insured.2
What is considered a “reasonable” match is an issue that will continue to be debated.
1 Cedar Bluff Townhome Condo. Ass’n, Inc. v. American Family Mut. Ins. Co., 857 N.W.2d 290 (Minn. 2014).
2 D’Annunzio v. Security-Connecticut Life Ins. Co., 410 S.E.2d 275, 276 (W. Va. 1991).