The answers are obviously “no.” I was reading a recent Colorado case1 where these questions popped into my head. A condominium hired a local roofer, DiRito Roofing & Claims, to handle the insurance hailstorm claim and fix the roof. The insurer won the case in part because the alleged expert roofing company was disqualified from testifying after claiming to offer insurance claims help in addition to fixing the roof.
I invite readers of this blog to visit the DiRito Roofing & Claims website. In my Google search, I found a number of very happy customers. Yet, the Internet solicitation says in part:
HAVE ROOF DAMAGE & NEED STORM CLAIM ASSISTANCE? CANON CITY
Do you need Storm Claim Assistance or support?
Maybe it’s a free roof inspection or a free evaluation of the replacement plan in your claim summary…
When you work with DiRito Roofing and Claims to manage your storm damage you get more than roofing repair, you get experience of thousands of reviewed, supplemented, and closed storm claims.
Roofing Insurance Claims Assistance, and Professional Roofing Contractors
We have a network of amazing installers and contractors we work with.
Claim Assistance and Support Services:
As a Valued Customers we offer claims support and services during this time. Nobody expects to have storm damage from Hail, Wind, Freezing or floods, but it does happen.
New Roof Replacements:
Roofing Insurance Repairs – It can feel like a mine-field with no manual to get through it. Sometimes a repair can suffice, but maybe not.
We realize that this is a stressful time, and the insurance claim process is not an experience most people want to get good at. We are not adjusters, but maybe we can help you get it completed.
Areas we can assist you with:
End to End Project Management Services to include Construction, Contracting, Insurance Experience, and Claim Support for you, our customers.
Ours services for [sic] exceed the actual replacement of your roof. We have people ready to help you get your storm damaged roof repair per proper building code and work successfully with your carrier (Damage Discussion and Recovery Plan)
We are not public adjusters.
Your Adjuster Visit, do you need a contractor that works with your carrier to support you?
We will stand by our repair recommendations and work with your adjuster to ensure that we communicate what we see based on our experience and knowledge of storm damage and that they have the opportunity to see and approve all your damage, if they agree…
Your Claim Summary,
If you had an adjuster visit then you either had a denial or you have a valid claim.
At DiRito Roofing and Claims, we evaluate your claim response (denial or approval) to ensure that all damaged/replacement items are on the claim report provided to you. In summary, this means you get the correct amount of claim funds to properly (construction, building codes, manufacturer standards) to fully resolve the damage to your home from the storm. We are there to help you get a solid understanding of the recovery process including the construction, your claim, and even mortgage issues that may keep you from getting it completed.
Need a Roof and Some Claim Help?
If you were denied and need a second opinion.
A basic legal rule may be in order for all to remember. Just because you write something like, “I am not a lawyer and not giving legal advice,” does not absolve you from the legal consequences when your actions demonstrate that you have been practicing law without a license. The same is true for any person conducting themselves as a public adjuster, engineer, and any number of trades where the state requires that the individual be licensed. You cannot be unlicensed and do those activities without breaking the law.
So, just because this contractor advertises that it is not a public adjuster does not absolve its adjusting actions. In this case, those actions hurt the Condominium Association because the insurance company successfully moved to exclude the testimony of the roofer, citing the following alleged facts:
DiRito’s roofing experience was installing trusses with her father’s company in her early teens….DiRito then worked in various government positions unrelated to roofing for twenty-six years…. After leaving government, DiRito began managing websites for online car sales….DiRito and her business partner started ManageMyBackOffice, Inc. (‘MMBO’), a South Dakota corporation, in 2016 after leaving the car sales website business…. MMBO began helping a contractor in South Dakota manage its accounts receivable and accounts payable….MMBO went on to assist other South Dakota contractors with moving claim supplements through the insurance process. Through this experience, DiRito claims that she inspected roofs with adjusters and contractors and observed what was paid as storm damage by insurance companies. …DiRito has never worked for an insurance company and has never worked as an insurance adjuster. …She has never taken any certification class to identify hail damage, although one was offered to her. …She is not licensed as a public adjuster… She does not hold a contractor license.
DiRito created DiRito Roofing & Claims on July 30, 2018, as a tradename of MMBO…. DiRito Roofing & Claims was created specifically in response to the opportunity presented by the July 23, 2018 storm in Canon City. Neither MMBO nor DiRito Roofing & Claims have ever registered to do business in Colorado…. DiRito advertises herself as having provided ‘independent claim management for more than 4,000 claims,’ and having ‘negotiated and settled more than $25,000,000 in full claim settlements.’… DiRito Roofing & Claims does not do the roofing work itself, and instead hires subcontractors to perform any contracted roofing services… DiRito met Yale’s property manager, Jeff Mueller, in a restaurant on August 15, 2018, where Mueller asked DiRito to come take a look at his property….. DiRito inspected the property on September 25, 2018. …Yale signed a contract with DiRito dated October 12, 2018. …DiRito has never been an expert before.
The insurance company then successfully argued that the roofer was acting illegally and that the roofer lacked credentials and a scientific method to be able to testify:
DiRito’s work in this case and proffered testimony violates Colorado laws regulating the conduct of roofing contractors and public adjusters. Colorado prohibits a person from acting as a public adjuster unless he or she is licensed to do so….
At the same time, Colorado law mandates that ‘[a] roofing contractor soliciting roofing services in this state shall not claim to be or act as a public insurance adjuster adjusting claims for losses or damages,’ and the roofing contractor is limited to discussing with an insurer ‘the scope of repairs… when the roofing contractor has a valid contract with the property owner on which the roofing contractor has contracted to perform roofing work.’ Id. § 6-22-105 (3)3. Further, Colorado law imposes requirements on roofing contracts. The roofing statute requires roofing contractors to permit clients to cancel the contract if insurance claims are denied in part or in full, and ‘return to the property owner any payments or deposits made by or evidence of indebtedness of the property owner in connection with the contract for roofing work on the residential property,’ except to compensate the contractor for ‘roofing work actually performed’ on the property ‘in a workmanlike manner consistent with standard roofing industry practices.’
… DiRito’s contract violates the statute and shows that DiRito is not just acting as a roofing contractor; she is also providing claim services for which she expects to be compensated. She is engaging in public adjusting without a license and in violation of Colorado statute and regulations, on a claim for which she is also contracted to perform the roofing work.
DiRito is not qualified to provide expert testimony on identifying hail and wind damage. While DiRito asserts that she has inspected thousands of roofs while helping clients with insurance claims, and this may help her learn what to say or do to get claims paid, she is not actually trained or educated on the identification of storm damage on roofing systems. DiRito has not taken any certification course about how to evaluate hail damage on asphalt shingle roofs…. DiRito’s report relies on cut and paste internet material regarding granule loss and damage that she does not attribute, instead passing off as her own. As discussed below, DiRito then modifies that content to insert unsupported hypotheses. DiRito’s experience does not provide the qualifications to conduct this type of analysis.
Based on those facts and arguments, the judge struck the roofer’s testimony and issued judgment for the insurance company.
Americans hate to be told that we cannot do something. I feel the same way. Yet, most states regulate who can fix roofs, who can provide engineering services, who can practice law, and who can practice public adjusting to protect our fellow citizens from those who do not have the credentials.
Hailstorm cases normally have legally qualified experts that testify on:
- Meteorology of hailstorms;
- Causation of the hailstorm damaging the building in a certain manner;
- The costs to fix damages caused by the hailstorm and experts explaining the scope of how to fix the damage.
Roofers and contractors are often called as experts in these cases. Even the roofers and contractors fixing the buildings are called as fact and expert witnesses. Licensed public adjusters are often called as fact and sometimes expert witnesses in hailstorm cases. But those that are not licensed and without sufficient credentials can, even if well-meaning, harm policyholders.
Thought For The Day
You can type things on the Internet. You can have no credentials in any area and just get on your smart phone and write whatever you want.
1 Yale Condominiums Homeowner’s Association v. American Family Mut. Ins. Co., No. 1:19-cv-02477 (Dist. Colo. Nov. 1, 2021).