Roof damage from hail and wind unpaid

After doing some price shopping for insurance, I decided to switch my homeowners insurance to Farmers and my policy began April 24, 2010 (agent Brendt Miller). Two weeks later, May 7, the greater Cleveland (OH) area had a huge storm: 75mph winds, severe hail, and possible tornadoes. Our city was declared a state of emergency and there was millions of dollars in damage in my city alone.

On June 8 my roof was inspected by Farmers adjuster Kirstin Elkins and an independent roofer. Both me and the roofer were told orally by Elkins that the roof was indeed damaged by wind and hail (the hail dents were visible on the roof and I had shingle tabs all over my yard) but due to the age of my roof, the damage would not be covered. My roofer stated he had never heard any such thing and verified that I had full replacement coverage (which I did). At this point I believe Elkins realized that story would not fly. So when I received the letter denying my claim, I was told there was “no damage”. So my roof is old (no disputing that) yet impervious to damage when the much newer roofs all around me were damaged and covered by their insurance companies (1000s of residents in my city received insurance money from the storm). This letter included the portion of my policy pertaining to the roof, which clearly stated that damage from weather and normal wear and tear damage due to aging are treated separately, the former being covered as long as the two can be differentiated. Since aging does not cause hail dents or shingles to fly off the roof, these should be easily differentiated in this case.

On July 20 my policy was illegally canceled in retaliation for me filing the above claim. The reason given (since “retaliation” isn’t a legal reason) was that I don’t live in my house (!?) and that my house was undergoing renovations (I was painting the exterior). I had owned the house (and of course lived in it) the entire time since purchasing it two years prior and still reside there. The “renovations” (painting) do not even require a building permit and therefore should not be considered “renovations” at all. I had received a letter prior to being dropped, warning that my policy would be dropped for the above mentioned reasons. I contacted my agent and he had me jump through hoops to prove I lived there (bringing him mail showing my address, etc). He even wanted to know when I’d be done painting my house. He told me he would take care of the problem and make sure my policy was not dropped. However, when I logged into the website one day to check on the status of the above mentioned claim, I found that I had indeed been dropped several days prior and had no coverage! I emailed him telling him that I believe this is illegal. His response was that it wasn’t his fault and that he was going to take care of it (what he had been saying all along). I immediately went out and got a new insurance policy. I never informed my agent that I had new coverage yet never heard anything from him (or anyone else from Farmers) about reinstating my illegally dropped policy.

On August 26 the roof was re-inspected by adjuster Michael Runyan and a new roofing contractor. This contractor even went through the trouble of circling all the hail dents in chalk and taking photos. I received the same story from Runyan; that my roof was damaged by hail and wind but due to the age of the shingles, would not be covered. This time they were kind enough to write that in the denial letter as well. (So I had two separate stories in writing now).

August 28 I faxed a letter to Farmers asking for appraisal process and mediation before reporting them to the Dept of Insurance. I got an immediate response from Diane Johnston, Runyan’s supervisor. She told me they were investigating my claim. I later received a call from Runyan stating that they were sending me a check for the “undisputed damage” to the roof (consisting of the entire front slope of the roof) while they continued to investigate the rest. I received a check for $1141 (after my $1000 deductible) to cover a total tear down and re-shingle of the front slope of my roof (which isn’t nearly enough to cover it). (Another change in their story).

On October 22 they hired a third party engineering company to inspect the roof for damage (this after their own two adjusters and about three independent contractors have all agreed to the damage). They basically paid this engineering company to state there was no damage to the roof (except to the metal valleys). So now I got yet another story change. Now there is no damage again, AFTER they already paid me for “undisputed damage” to half the roof.

On April 21 I hired an attorney to write a letter to Farmers demanding the remainder of the cost of a roof plus attorney’s fees in settlement, or else I would file a lawsuit for breach of contract, bad faith negotiations, etc, etc, etc. They ignored the letter. May 2 my attorney called and left messages with Runyan and Johnston. Today (May 3) my attorney received a fax from Farmers again refusing to pay for the damage, stating there was only damage to the metal valleys but that they gave me all the money to cover all the shingles on that side of the roof so that they would match (yeah right). They state that due to the deteriorating condition of the rear slope of the roof, they will not pay.

None of their story adds up. The roof was hit equally on both sides, as the storm came from the North and my roof slopes to the East and West. Saying that the shingles didn’t sustain damage but the metal valleys did makes no sense, ESPECIALLY considering the age. How is it that the newer roofs around me sustained damage to their shingles, but my older shingles were not damaged from the hail/wind at all?

Now they have played games so long that in a few days it will be the 1 year anniversary of the storm. I am under the impression that my lawsuit must be filed by then, is that true? I would like to find a lawyer who would take my case on a contingency basis or get in on a class action lawsuit. I just read and saw a ton of people in the same exact boat I am. There should be enough of us to get a class action lawsuit going on roof damage being unpaid.

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