Last week I discussed Colorado case law which requires an insurer to replace a hail damaged roof to its pre-loss function, even if such replacement places the insured in a better position than before the loss. See Dupre v. Allstate Ins. Co., 62 P.3d 1024, 1031-32 (Colo. App. 2002). Policyholders may be entitled to payments for substrate or roof deck not directly affected by hail if replacement of substrate or roof deck is required to support the new top layer.
Below are tips to help policyholders obtain sufficient payments from the insurer. The key is to provide sufficient evidence to the adjuster, so that denial of coverage for a portion of or all of the roof system becomes less likely.
If an insurer only tenders payment for damage to the immediately visible top layer of roofing material and fails to properly repair the entire roof system, it may be liable for its failure properly to inspect, test, and repair damaged property. Coleman v. United Fire & Cas. Co., 767 P.2d 761, 763 (Colo. App. 1988) (insurer’s liability for replacing hail damaged roof with an inferior roof is separate and distinct from its liability under the insurance contract). In the face of well-documented damage and a roof expert’s tests and findings of damaged or degraded substrate or roof deck, adjusters are more likely to tender a sufficient insurance payment to properly replace the roof.
TIPS FOR ENSURING ADEQUATE PAYMENTS FROM AN INSURER TO
PROPERLY REPLACE A HAIL DAMAGED ROOF
1. Immediately notify the carrier of all damage.
2. Inform the insurance adjuster an expert needs to determine the condition of the entire roof system, in addition to areas immediately visible.
3. Review the property insurance policy to determine which provisions may apply to the damage. If a complete copy of the policy is not available, make a written request to the adjuster to obtain a complete certified copy of the policy (including all endorsements) as soon as possible.
4. Retain an expert in roof repair and replacement to perform non-destructive testing in conjunction with core cuts to determine if the damaged top layer (i.e., EPDM, TPO, Built-Up, Modified Bitumen, shake shingles, asphalt shingles) can be replaced with or without additional work to substrate, insulation, sheathing or decking based on code and manufacturer specifications for repair/replacement.
5. Document everything including test results, photos of all substrate layers down to the roof deck, and the expert’s findings/conclusions.
6. Provide the adjuster with maintenance records, which may show the roof functioned properly until the date of loss.
7. If your expert/roofing contractor determines any substrate, including the structural deck, must also be repaired or replaced in order to put the roof back to its pre-loss condition and functionality, immediately provide all information for this additional covered insurance benefit to the adjuster.
For tips on residential roof claims, see a related post by Tina Nicholson: What to Do When You have a Possible Insurance Claim.