There must be a lot of matching disputes out there because I have received two questions this week alone on matching issues in various jurisdictions. So, for today’s blog I will discuss matching in Ohio—The Buckeye State.
Ohio is one of the states that has a regulation issued by its Department of Insurance on matching. Ohio Adm. Code 3901-1-54(I)(1)(b) requires:
When an interior or exterior loss requires replacement of an item and the replaced item does not match the quality, color or size of the item suffering the loss, the insurer shall replace as much of the item as to result in a reasonably comparable appearance.
The issue whether matching of undamaged property is covered may come down to what constitutes a “reasonably comparable appearance.” In Wright v. State Farm Fire & Casualty Company,1 the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld summary judgment in favor of an insurer and dismissed claims of bad faith, breach of contract, and misrepresentation, holding that Ohio Admin. Code 3901-1-54 did not require the insurer to cover the replacement of a roof, because the insureds failed to present evidence that the proposed roof repair would not result in a reasonably comparable appearance. The insureds’ roof sustained wind damage to several wood shake roof tiles. The insureds presented an affidavit from their expert (a roofer) that the roof required total replacement because the new wooden shake tiles would not match the existing tiles. The Sixth Circuit explained that “although unweathered shakes would not exactly match the color of the weathered shakes, * * * unweathered replacement shakes * * * [would] result in a reasonably comparable appearance” and “satisfy the requirements of the Administrative Code.” The court found summary judgment was appropriate because the insureds presented no evidence, beyond their opinion, of special circumstances that would require total replacement.
The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals declined to extend the reasonably comparable appearance requirement in Ohio Adm.Code 3901-1-54(I)(1)(b) to full replacement of the roof, absent evidence of special circumstances with that particular roof, because to hold otherwise would create an “extreme blanket rule” requiring full replacement of any damaged roof. An insured must put forth evidence, beyond his mere opinion, that the proposed replacement materials would not result in a “reasonably comparable appearance.”2
As you can see, matching under a property insurance will often depend on the specific facts and circumstances of the case.
1 Wright v. State Farm Fire & Cas. Co., 555 F. Appx. 575, 579 (6th Cir. 2014).
2 Id.; See also, Zinser v. Auto-Owners Ins. Co., 2017 Ohio 5668, 2017 WL 2838393 (Ohio App. July 3, 2017).