Several years ago I discussed a Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals case where the court determined that general contractor’s Overhead and Profit were recoverable if the insured would “reasonably be expected to hire a contractor to repair its property” See Parkway Assoc., LLC v. Harleysville Mut. Ins. Co., 129 Fed. Appx. 955 (6th Cir. 2005). You would think that this Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals opinion would have encouraged insurance companies to do the right thing and include Overhead and Profit in their estimates and settlements, at least in the state of Tennessee. Surprisingly, I still regularly receive calls about insurance carriers that are not paying Overhead and Profit (O&P) correctly. I hear that some companies do not pay O&P on ACV payments, but will pay for it after the work is complete. Some companies will withhold O&P from specific areas of the estimate like roofing, cleaning, mitigation, or debris removal. Some companies refuse to pay O&P all together, by stating that the claim isn’t “complex” enough to warrant O&P. Some companies even try to avoid paying O&P to restoration or mitigation companies after a fire or water loss. To be clear, all of the above examples are not only wrong, but they could be acts of bad faith by the carrier.
In Tennessee, there is only one question that must be answered to determine if O&P is owed and that is this – – is it reasonably likely that the insured would be expected to hire a contractor to repair the property? So who determines when it is reasonably likely that the insured would be expected to hire a contractor? Thankfully for policyholders in Tennessee, The Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance has answered this question for us. Effective January 1, 2014, the Board of Licensing Contractors issued a bulletin that clearly spells out when a policyholder is reasonably likely to hire a contractor. The bulletin can be found here.
To sum it up, a contractor is required on any project of $25,000 or more (excluding masonry) or when there will be more than one subcontractor or tradesman on the project. The Board of Licensing went so far as to say that a contractor’s license is required before anyone could even make a bid or given an estimate on a project of $25,000 or more or any project that will involve more than one subcontractor. The contractors who have taken the extra time and steps to become licensed should be compensated for their operating expenses (Overhead) and should be allowed to make a Profit from the work they have performed.
Do not let insurance adjusters or agents tell you otherwise – – O&P is not already built into Xactimate line item estimate pricing. Also, remember that the premiums you pay are based on a Replacement Cost Value and the software your agent uses to calculate the replacement cost will include the charges for General Contractors Overhead and Profit. Since you are already paying a premium for O&P, you should be compensated for O&P on any loss where there are at least two tradesmen (subcontractors) needed for the repairs and/or on any loss that is in excess of $25,000 and this does not exclude mitigation or restoration services. If your restoration company is also a licensed contractor, they are owed O&P for their services as well.
The last time I posted about this I received multiple calls from contractors around the State. If you are a contractor or roofer and you’ve had difficulty recovering payment of O&P, feel free to call – – I’d love to hear from you.