Hail prone areas may result in multiple storms which damage a roof. Not too many policyholders are climbing up on their roofs to measure exactly how much hail damage is done after a hail storm occurs. But their insurance companies must be expecting them to do so based on a recent case involving Berkshire Hathaway Insurance Company.1

Can you imagine old Warren Buffet of Berkshire Hathaway trying to climb up on his roof to check his roof for hail damage?

The referenced case is from Oklahoma, a state that has a lot of tornados and a lot of hail damage claims. The judge stated that “the principal issue…is whether hails damage occurred during the covered period.” Since the judge struck the policyholder’s expert opinions because of their reliance on unreliable weather reports, the policyholder lost the claim for coverage.

The lessons to learn from this case are many. First, just because you find hail damage, it may not result in a valid hail damage claim if the insurance company starts looking for ways to claim that hail damage may have occurred at a different time. This is because most states require policyholders show that damage happened during the policy period.

Second, meteorologists are important when insurance companies challenge the date of a hail damage. Engineers are not meteorologists.

A third lesson is a trend that engineers and attorneys for insurance companies are spending a lot of time teaching their insurance company clients how to create doubt and demands for proof that a recent hailstorm is the cause of all the hail damage. There is a cadre of insurance defense attorneys and engineers making presentations and teaching their clients how to prevent, lower, and avoid paying hail damage claims in areas prone to hail damage.

David Barrack, Brian Goodman, Buddy Combs, Jeff O’Connor, and Glen Mulready

The National Association of Public Insurance Adjusters (NAPIA) leadership is to be congratulated for hosting Oklahoma Department of Insurance Chief of Staff Buddy Combs and Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner Glen Mulready at their mid-year meeting. A picture of them with NAPIA’s President Jeff O’Connor, Executive Director David Barrack, and NAPIA’s longstanding General Counsel Brian Goodman is above. NAPIA has established itself as a prominent and respected voice with insurance regulatory bodies because of its leadership and experienced counsel about tough insurance issues like those discussed in this post.

I wonder whether those insurance leaders from Oklahoma expect their mothers, fathers, and fellow Sooners to climb up ladders to their roofs after each hailstorm to inspect and then measure the amount of hail damage following every hailstorm that strikes or risk being challenged to prove the exact amount of damage from each of those storms to collect on the most recent hailstorm striking them?

Thought For The Day

It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.

Warren Buffett
1 Surfside Japanese Auto Parts & Service v. Berkshire Hathaway Homestate Ins. Co., No. 18-487 (ND Okla. Oct. 25, 2019).