In the past, I’ve posted a few articles regarding the recent trend of insurers to attempt to deny hail damage claims on the basis that the damage is “cosmetic” rather than “functional.” Most commonly, the issue arises when there are hail dents to a metal roof and the insurance company denies the claim on the basis that the roof still functions and the damage is only aesthetic. In the past several years, I’ve had to deal with this issue several times. This past summer, we finally had an opportunity to get a ruling on this issue from the Davidson County Chancery Court. In that particular case, Westfield Insurance Company insured a hotel against “direct physical loss,” and hail undisputedly dented the hotel’s metal roof. When faced with the issue, Chancellor Russell T. Perkins ruled:
Based on the undisputed facts, the Court is asked by [the insured] to rule, as a matter of law, that the hail dents to the metal mansard roof of the Insured Premises constitute direct physical loss or damage under the subject insurance policy. . . . The Court concludes 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.
Thankfully Chancellor Perkins got it right, but the fight will continue until an appellate court finally issues binding law. This one has always seemed like a no-brainer to me. Clearly if hail dents a roof, whether it be a car, house, or office building, the dent constitutes “direct physical loss.” For a copy of the Chancellor Perkins’ opinion, click here.