A significant adaptation debate is often the availability of reasonably comparable shingles. The typical disagreement occurs when a shingle is no longer manufactured or does not match existing shingles on a damaged roof. The insurer will investigate. It then makes a payment based on a finding that comparable shingles exist and can be used to repair the damage. The insurer does not invoke the right to repair.
A new order1 in a federal case did not decide the issue, but recited this typical shingle scenario:
Royal Ridge owns twenty-three buildings consisting of sixty-five units. Royal Ridge had a condominium association policy in effect with State Farm, an insurance company. On May 22, 2018, Royal Ridge’s buildings were damaged by hail and a windstorm. Royal Ridge’s property manager recommended that Royal Ridge involve Feazel Roofing. Feazel inspected the buildings and found significant damage
On July 23, 2018, Royal Ridge submitted a claim to State Farm to replace all of its roofs. At that time, Michael St. was awarded John, an adjuster, to the claim. On August 8, 2018, St. John did an initial inspection of some of the buildings and found damage. State Farm hired an engineer, Wesley Gerbick, to inspect the roofs for hail damage. State Farm instructed Mr. Gerbick to inspect three roofs on the property and Mr. Gerbick found damage to all three. He observed ‘hail-caused spots’, shingles displaced by the wind and ‘aged and recent hail-caused indentations’ on soft metals on various roofs. Mr. Gerbick believed that the roofs could be repaired because the shingles were pliable and easy to handle without tools. He also noted that there were repairs to several roofs in the past, confirming that the shingles can be repaired.
From October 30, 2018 through December 3, 2018, St. John further inspections. He found metal and siding damage on every building and shingles damage on some buildings. On January 24, 2019, St. John an estimate of $646,273.18 to replace the three roofs inspected by Gerbick and siding on all buildings. On March 28, 2019 – ten months after the storm – State Farm notified Royal Ridge of its assessment and made its first payment to Royal Ridge. State Farm made its second payment on September 17, 2019.
In June 2019, St. John to Royal Ridge – at Royal Ridge’s request – for further inspection and further damage determined. (ECF No. 54-1 at 108–109). In July 2019, revised Mr. St. John’s appreciation, so that Royal Ridge could replace additional damaged shingles. However, he did not determine if there was a matching shingle – a shingle with a comparable appearance – that would actually allow Royal Ridge to replace the shingles. In August 2019, Royal Ridge’s president informed Mr. St. John that he did not think a comparable single could be found. In February 2020, St. John’s mission and State Farm had not yet determined whether there was a matching single.
Subsequently, a new adjuster, Alice Sandvick, began handling the claim. Mrs. Sandvick hired an engineer to complete another inspection of the property. Mr Gerbick then went back to the property and found further damage. In May 2020, State Farm again revised the estimate—now totaling $657,956.60—to reflect Gerbick’s new findings and paid $6,603.74 to Royal Ridge. State Farm also began trying to find a matching single. In June 2020, State Farm determined that there was a reasonably comparable shingle that could be used to replace Royal Ridge’s shingle. In total, State Farm has paid $617,691.93 for new siding on all twenty-three buildings, the replacement of three roofs, and the cost of repairs to some roofs. However, Royal Ridge argues that State Farm should replace all of its roofs. State Farm disagrees.
The insurer has a hypothesis after an investigation. Simply following the scientific method in dealing with these cases, I often suggest that the policyholder begin by testing the hypothesis. Where is the shingles? How many can be ordered? Who made the shingles? What are the manufacturing specifications? Can you actually order a small batch of shingles to see if they are really comparable and repairable? Although the insurer should do this as part of a good faith investigation, it rarely does.
I also suggest that policyholders, public adjusters and roofing contractors begin using the NTS to find the manufacturer’s specifications for the original shingles and the proposed similar type and grade of shingles. The service is very cheap and can answer many of these questions.
Inasmuch as nature delights and flourishes in variety, that among her trees there is not one plant exactly like another; and not only among the plants, but among the branches, leaves, and fruits, you will not find one exactly like another.
-Leonardo Da Vinci
1 Royal Ridge Lane Apartment. Ass’n v. State Farm Fire & Cas. Co.No. 1:20-CV-01439 (ND Ohio Aug. 16, 2022).