The Iowa Line of Sight Rule for Matching of Undamaged Materials

It’s not uncommon for a hail or windstorm to cause damage to only one or two sides of a structure, leaving the remaining sides undamaged. Many policyholders then file an insurance claim, and reasonably expect their insurance to cover the replacement, only for the insurance company to suggest they only owe for the damaged materials without any consideration for the altered appearance of the building with new mismatched materials.1 The result is magnified when damaged materials are no longer available, resulting in an obvious aesthetic difference between the undamaged and repaired areas of the structure.

What Is Matching Coverage?

Line of sight coverage is also sometimes called matching coverage or matching roof and siding coverage. It’s an optional endorsement you can add to your homeowner’s insurance policy that can help ensure a visually consistent appearance for your house after a repair due to covered damage.

Let’s say, for example, that you’ve owned your home for nearly 10 years, and one day a windstorm damages the siding (thankfully only on one side). As you start the replacement process, you find that that same siding is no longer manufactured, meaning replacing only the damaged siding would leave your home looking significantly mismatched. Line of sight coverage would ensure that the insurance company replaces enough of the undamaged siding that the house is visually consistent from a given line of sight.

What Is the Iowa Line of Sight Rule?

Iowa’s line of sight rule requires that insurance companies replace enough of a partially damaged item so that the appearance of the item is “reasonably uniform… within the same line of sight.” While several states have addressed matching through the court system, Iowa has joined a number of states throughout the country that have passed statutes covering this topic. Iowa’s regulation is derived from one proposed by the National Association of Insurance Commissions encouraging matching of undamaged materials to achieve a reasonably uniform appearance to property insured by a replacement cost value policy.2

What’s Considered a “Reasonably Uniform Appearance” Under the Iowa Line of Sight Rule?

While Iowa has clearly recognized the importance of matching replacement materials with undamaged materials, whether matching of undamaged property is covered often boils down to a subjective exercise of determining what constitutes a “reasonably uniform appearance.” This requires a policyholder to present evidence, beyond his or her own opinion, that the proposed repair will not achieve a reasonably uniform appearance within the same line of sight.

Does the Iowa Line of Sight Rule Apply to All Types of Insurance?

No, the line of sight rule in Iowa specifically applies to homeowners insurance claims, not all types of insurance. The relevant Iowa rule is Iowa Administrative Code 15.44(1)(b) which focuses on replacement costs for roofs and siding within the context of homeowners insurance policies. There are no current rules or regulations extending this concept to other types of insurance like car insurance or health insurance.

What Is Iowa Admin Code 191-15.44?

Iowa’s Administrative Code Rule 191-15.44 states, “when a loss requires replacement of items and the replaced items do not match in quality, color or size, the insurer shall replace as much of the item as is necessary to result in a reasonably uniform appearance within the same line of sight… The insured shall not bear any cost over the applicable deductible, if any.”

191-15.44 thus protects the insured from paying extra to repair enough of the item so that its aesthetic appearance is consistent. This is good news for Iowa homeowners, since part of a home’s value is its appearance. After all, the purpose of a replacement cost policy is to make the insured whole, necessarily requiring an insurance carrier to put the damaged structure back in the position it was before the loss.

Further Resources on Insurance Coverage Law

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1 Windridge of Naperville Condo. Ass’n v. Philadelphia Indem. Ins. Co., 2019 WL 3720876 (7th Cir. August 7, 2019).
2 Connecticut; Utah; Ohio; Florida.