Earlier this week I met with an association board of directors about their ongoing hail claim. While the association is sorting through a number of issues, one of the larger disputes centers around the siding installed on each of the buildings.
Whether a change in the profile and thickness of a certain type of siding or a discontinued color of roofing tile, policyholders are often faced with a situation where they cannot find replacement materials of like kind and quality after a loss has occurred. Policyholders are left in a situation where they must replace a undamaged portions of the building or simply live with a building that does not match as it did before the loss occurred.
While many insurance carriers will pay for the increased costs associated with bringing the property back to its previous uniformity, some dispute that coverage exists without a specific endorsement.
The Ohio Court of Appeals dealt with this particular issue and, like many other courts, found coverage for matching and uniformity under the insured’s homeowners policy.
In Dolecki v. Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company,1 the policyholder’s home was damaged by hail. The parties agreed that hail had damaged the aluminum siding on the west of the house but had not damaged the remaining three sides. Because the siding on the house had been discontinued, it was impossible to find replacement parts that would dimensionally match. When Nationwide refused to replace the undamaged siding, the Dolecki’s filed suit for breach of contract.
The trial court found in favor of the homeowner, stating the insurance policy required Nationwide to find an exact match for the damaged siding or pay to replace the siding on all sides of the home regardless of whether it was damaged. In doing so, the trial court found that it would be unreasonable to allow Nationwide to replace the damaged siding with a product that did not match the remainder of the house. On appeal, the appellate court agreed.
Matching under a property insurance contract varies by state and often depends on the specific facts and circumstances of the particular case. Courts often look to the reasonableness of the required work, the aesthetic damage that would be caused, and whether the policyholder had a reasonable expectation the contract would provide for replacement of the undamaged property.