Policyholders in Tennessee can breathe a sigh of relief because if they receive dents to their metal roof, the court has already ruled that it is covered by the insurance policy. If your hail claim is denied by your insurance company, you should consider seeking professional advice from a Public Adjuster or Policyholder Attorney.
Thankfully for policyholders in Tennessee, the Honorable Russell T. Perkins, Chancellor Court Judge for Davidson County Tennessee, recently had the opportunity to rule on this very issue. In the case Sai Leela Inc., v. Westfield Insurance Company, the insurance company's logic was put to the test. The insurance company agreed that their policy provided coverage for "Direct Physical Loss" however, the policy did not define that the loss or damage had to be "Functional" or "Cosmetic" The insurance company agreed that the metal roof received dents from the hail storm but denied the claim because:
The policyholder wisely sought out professional advice and turned to the local powerhouse law firm for assistance. Brandon McWherter of Gilbert | Russell | McWherter | Scott | Bobbitt PLC called on the court to determine if dents in a metal roof are considered Direct Physical Loss or Damage under the policy of insurance. The court determined, as a matter of law, that:
"if there are hail dents to the metal mansard roofs, no matter whether they are visible from the
ground or visible with or without the aid of chalk, then such dents constitute direct physical loss
or damage under the insurance policy and therefore constitute a covered claim under the policy."
"[t]he metal roof panels were not functionally damaged by hail impact"
"the dents have not affected the aesthetic value of the roof covering."
For the policyholders that do not accept the insurance company's propaganda that the dents do not hurt anything and do not accept their offer to coat or seal the roof, the policyholder will likely be told that "An Expert" will need to inspect the roof to determine if it is damaged or not. Remember, this is the same roof that has dents all over it from the hail. Who needs an expert to decide if dents in metal roofing meet the criteria of damage under the insurance policy? Insurance companies who do not want to pay hail claims need these experts. The problem is that most of the experts hired by the insurance companies already have a preconceived idea that dents in metal do not meet the criteria of damage. Most "Experts" hired by the insurance company almost always state that the dents have not caused "Functional" damage to the roof; therefore, the roof is not damaged. Although 99% of insurance policies do not require the damage to be "Functional," expert after expert will reference the word "Functional" in their report to the insurance company. Not surprisingly, almost all metal roof claims that involve "An Expert" hired by the insurance company will end in a full or partial denial of the roof due to the disingenuous idea that because the roof is not leaking, it must not be damaged. Imagine an insurance company denying automobile claims because the vehicle can still be driven even with dents in the metal. This would never be accepted in automobile insurance claims, but for some reason property insurance companies seem to think the same logic does not apply to metal roofing on a home or business.
For some, it might be hard to believe that policyholders who sustain hail damage to their metal roof might not receive coverage under their policy of insurance. For those who are involved in the insurance industry either as advocates, experts, or restoration contractors, this is not only reality, but it is becoming a more and more common trend.
Lets say a hail storm hitsJackson, Tennessee and numerous businesses, homes, and automobiles receive damage from the storm. Policyholders from each group will make claims with their insurance companies. The same hail stones that pound the roofs of the businesses and homes are the same hail stones that cause damage to the automobiles. Policyholders with full coverage will take their vehicles in and the dents will be fixed without any questions whether or not the damage is covered. Everyone knows that hail dents to automobiles are covered, presuming you have full coverage on that specific automobile.
But what happens to the homeowners and business owners who make claims because their metal roofs have dents from the same hail storm? A reasonable person would presume that the insurance companies would promptly take care of their customers who have sustained damage to their metal roofs. Unfortunately this is not what typically happens. Some insurance companies will send out an adjuster who will try to explain to the policyholder how dents in the metal do not really hurt anything and that because the roof is not leaking, the damage is minimal in nature. Some agents and adjusters will even try to persuade the policyholder to withdraw the claim. For the policyholders who do not accept this way of thinking, the next step will be for the insurance company to offer to "Coat" or "Seal" the roof. This is simply a way for the insurance company to make a "Lowball" offer to their policyholder in hopes that the policyholder will take the offer and forget about actually replacing the damaged roof. Lets face it, coating or sealing a dented roof does not do anything to remove the dents or return the metal back to its "Pre-Loss" condition, which is exactly what the concept of insurance is based on.
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