Late notification of damage to roofs is a common problem. Most people do not report damage from a windstorm on a roof unless it leaks. Do insurance companies expect their customers to report a potential loss to them for inspection after each windstorm? Does the insurer expect all their policyholders to climb on their roofs to look for damage? ? Consequently, late reporting of loss to damaged roofs is a common damage problem.
A recent decision in South Carolina provides an example. 1 Facts in the case were noted by the district court:
Prior to Hurricane Matthew which hit South Carolina in October 2016, the buildings belonging to the various Golf Colony plaintiffs had experienced many leakage problems. … But the various Golf Colony plaintiffs did not keep a main log or list of shareholders' complaints. Therefore, the plaintiff does not know definitively if there were any leaks or if other repairs were made to the units … In addition, on March 20, 2018, 18 months before Empire was notified of Hurricane Matthew's claim, a roofer informed … the plaintiff that a hailstorm had damaged the plaintiff's roof… .May 15, 2018… The complainant's property manager reported damage to the roofs of the condominium buildings by hail and / or wind (not related to Hurricane Matthew) to his property insurance at the time, some Underwriters at Lloyd & # 39 ;s, London, whose claims were administered by a company called ICAT Boulder Claims (these insurance companies are collectively referred to as "ICAT Boulder Claims") … The date of the loss for this hail and / or wind damage was stated as March 20, 2018.  Between June 1, 2018 and 20 June 2018, engineers were hired by ICAT Boulder Claims, Christopher C. Basile, PE and J. Parks Payne, Jr., PE from Rimkus Consulting Group, Inc [
Let me stop in the middle of the last sentence. I bet most readers of this blog, given that Rimkus was hired by the insurer to investigate the hail damage claim, can really guess if the hailstorm was denied. The unique part of this case was that a subsequent consultant hired by the policyholder agreed with Rimkus on the hailstorm damage:
Shortly after the rejection of ICAT Boulder Claims, the plaintiff retained a new consultant, Lewis O & # 39; Leary from ProBuilders … to verify or dispute the results of the Rimkus report …… O & # 39; Leary is not a licensed professional engineer, but rather is a licensed general contractor…. O & # 39; Leary that he agreed to the Rimkus report that the hail damage to the plaintiff's property was relatively small … In addition, ProBuilders Report stated that Hurricane Matthew may have caused damage to the roof, structure, sheet metal and interiors.
So, 35 months after the loss, the policyholder notified the insurance company of the hurricane. Matthew's loss. This is what the court found regarding this late reporting of loss:
It is undisputed that Empire did not receive a formal notice of loss from the plaintiff until almost three (3) years after the storm event. Specifically, Hurricane Matthew hit South Carolina around October 8, 2016. Empire did not know anything about Plaintiff's claim for Hurricane Matthew until September 10, 2019 at the earliest, which was the date of Plaintiff's notice of loss of property. To interpret "promptly" as covering a 35-month delay would remove all meaning from the word and fail to give effect to the parties' intentions …. In addition, the rights of innocent parties are not jeopardized. Rather, the insurance in question here is first-party protection; and therefore the plaintiff cannot be an "innocent party" who "did nothing to jeopardize the coverage." Here, under the terms of Section E (3) of the Condominium Association Coverage Form, the plaintiff had an express obligation to "[g]] ive [Empire] immediate notice of the loss or damage, including a description of the property involved." Consequently, Plaintiff cannot enforce the innocence of the innocent party because it had an obligation under the policy to inform Empire of loss or damage as soon as possible.
In South Carolina, it is simply too late to report loss 35 months after the loss, but
Thought For The Day
It's never too late to correct our mistakes, and if we do not, we risk repeating them.
– Lisa Madigan
1 Golf Colony Resort II v. Empire Indemnity Ins. Co. No. 4: 19-cv-3102 (DSC 2 Dec. 2021).