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Federal Case Affirms Hail Dented Roof is Covered as Direct Physical Damage

A recent federal appellate case demonstrates the lengths insurance companies will often go to in order to deny a claim.  The case, entitled Advance Cable Company v. Cincinnati Ins. Co., No. 14-2748, 2015 WL 3630699 (7th Cir. 2015), involved a hail dented roof which the insurance company claimed was not covered under the property insurance policy.  Though the property owners were forced to spend considerable time bringing the action, the appellate court ultimately recognized the validity of their claim.

A Wisconsin town was pelted by hail back in 2011.  Several homes and buildings were damaged by the hail, including the metal roof on one of the buildings owned by Advance Cable Company.  The owners submitted a claim to their insurance company, but the property insurance claim was denied.  The insurer stated that the damage to the roof was cosmetic and therefore excluded by the policy.  The district court agreed that the hail damage should be covered, but rejected a bad faith argument.  Cincinnati appealed and the federal court affirmed the district court’s decision. 

Direct Physical Loss Addressed

This case revolves round the definition of the term “direct physical loss.”  In order to be covered under Advance Cable’s property insurance policy, the hail damaged roof must be a direct physical loss per the policy. The parties do not dispute the meaning of direct.  Direct is meant to exclude an intervening force that caused the damage.  Here, it is clear that the hail was the cause of the damage.  The term physical, however, is the subject of dispute. The insurer claimed that physical means essential or central, whereas the insured believes the word to mean simply physical, visible damage.  Ultimately, the appellate court, considering both interpretations, determined that the physically dented roof met the language of the policy.  The damage is not intangible and thus can be considered direct physical damage.

Lastly, the court addressed whether the loss experienced here satisfied the loss requirement in the policy.  The insurer claimed the damage was just cosmetic and therefore not a loss as contemplated in the policy. However, as the insured points out, the policy itself defines loss as “accidental loss or damage.”  The roof was clearly damaged by the hail and this term is used synonymously with loss.  Insurance policies have long allowed for the repair of cosmetic damage and this federal court has decided to continue this tradition.

Consult with an Attorney if Your Home Has Been Damaged

This appellate case demonstrates that even seemingly simple homeowners’ insurance claims, like a hail damaged roof, can become monumentally complex, time consuming, and expensive to attempt to litigate.  If your home has been damaged in any way, consult with a licensed homeowners’ insurance attorney right away.  Your attorney will attempt to obtain coverage for your loss in an expedited and efficient manner.

Contact the Homeowners’ Insurance Attorneys at Greenberg, Stone & Urbano Today For Your Free Consultation!

If you need assistance with a homeowners’ insurance related matter, contact the Miami Homeowners’ Insurance Attorneys at Greenberg, Stone & Urbano. Our knowledgeable and caring firm will guide you through the complex homeowners’ insurance web.  We have over 130 collective years of experience representing homeowners against their insurers across South Florida and will put our extensive experience to work for you.  Contact our firm as soon as possible to protect your legal rights.  Our firm received an AV rating from Martindale Hubbell and was ranked as a top firm in South Florida by the Miami Herald.  Call us at (888) 499-9700 or (305) 595-2400 or you can visit our website to schedule your initial consultation.

Source:

http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1704040.html

 

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