A recent ruling from the United States District Court for Colorado has shed new light on the context of cosmetic matching coverage.
In Bertisen v. Travelers Home and Marine Insurance Company,1 the Plaintiff’s home in Golden Colorado was hit by hail on May 8, 2017, damaging the roofing tiles. Travelers agreed to patch repair the tiles. However, the existing tiles were discontinued, and no new, identical tiles were produced by another manufacturer. Bertisen argued that Travelers was required to cover the cost of full roof replacement because the policy language provided for repairing or replacing damaged property with materials of “like kind and quality and for like use.” Bertisen further argued that restoring the roof must include a reasonable match, as a mismatched roof would not restore the roof’s aesthetic and would not fulfill the policy’s promise of “like kind and quality.”
Travelers argued that the policy covered only “direct physical loss” and that the policy only intended to cover physically damaged property, not cosmetic mismatches. Travelers also quoted policy language arguing coverage applied only to the “part of the building damaged” or the amount actually spent to “repair or replace the damaged building.”
Under Colorado law, the policy terms are given their plain and ordinary meaning unless the contract indicates an alternative interpretation is intended.2 If the policy’s terms are ambiguous or can be reasonably interpreted in more than one way, the policy is construed against the insurer and in favor of coverage.3
The court’s analysis of the policy language noted ambiguity regarding the provision’s “property” that must suffer “direct physical loss” and whether it narrowly referred to the smallest divisible unit (a single roofing tile) or a larger unit (the roof system or the dwelling as a whole). The court also noted that the phrase “of like kind and quality” was undefined in the policy and could reasonably be interpreted to require matching. Given these ambiguities, the court ultimately ruled in favor of Bertisen, concluding the policy reasonably encompassed cosmetic matching coverage.
In its ruling, the court emphasized that its determination pertained only to this policy under these factual circumstances. This decision stresses the importance of closely reviewing the policy to confirm the extent of coverage, particularly in instances of partial damage. If you have questions regarding coverage in relation to your property damage claim, please contact our office.