SE Texas Record

Monday, November 18, 2019

All insurers should resist dubious claims

Our View

By David Yates | Feb 8, 2016

Shingles are something you never want to have, unless they're on the top of your house or on the outside of your law office.

Joe Cantu is fortunate not to have shingles, at least not on his roof, but he does have cement tiles up there, and some of them apparently got damaged when the March 29, 2012 hailstorm hit his Hidalgo County home.

Though conceding that only 8-14 tiles were damaged, Cantu nevertheless wanted his insurer, State Farm Lloyds, to replace all the tiles on his roof, ostensibly to make sure they would match.

When State Farm told Cantu “can't do,” Cantu said “can too” and filed suit.

Last month, a federal jury agreed with State Farm. It wasn't a difficult decision in the end, because the cost of replacing the damaged tiles was less than Cantu's deductible.

Though he tried to convince the jury that State Farm was obligated to replace all the tiles, not just the broken ones, Cantu couldn't.

“Plaintiff alleges that he is entitled to an entirely new roof because repairing the 8 to 14 damaged tiles on his roof may result in the use of tiles that are similar, not the same, as the brand of tiles currently on his roof,” State Farm's motion for summary judgment notes. “However, even if Plaintiff’s damages exceeded his deductible, the Policy provides for repairs of like kind and quality. As such State Farm did not breach the insurance policy.”

“The outcome is not surprising,” says Dallas commercial insurance attorney Steven Badger. “Like previous jury verdicts favorable to the insurance companies, it is obvious juries are realizing that most of these hail damage lawsuits do not involve the underpayment of legitimate claims.

“Instead,” Badger explains, “juries recognize that these lawsuits are about roofing contractors, public adjusters, policyholder attorneys, and their so-called experts trying to manipulate the system for their own financial gain.”

State Farm is fighting back and winning – and other insurers can, too.

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