– Marc Gravely, April 28th 2021
Many Texas residents are stunned to hear that their insurance policy will not cover metal roof replacement or dent repair after a major hailstorm. Maybe a Texas insurance agent sold you a policy claiming to cover hail dents and wind damage – and is now refusing payment. Many Texans ask us if they can sue their insurance company for denying payment or misrepresenting coverage involving hail dents on metal roofs.
In general, YES. In fact, filing a lawsuit against a Texas insurer for giving you the wrong information, denying payment, or delaying payment is crucial. Not only does it protect your hard-earned investment, but it holds insurance companies accountable for their actions – helping to prevent negligent or corrupt insurance practices and protect future property owners.
Suppose Texas Amica, USAA, Allstate, State Farm, or other property insurer has denied coverage for hail damage to your metal roof or is giving you a lowball settlement offer that will not cover the desired replacement or hail dent repair. In that case, this blog describes how to handle the insurance company and – if necessary – how to file a lawsuit against the insurance company and win the coverage required to replace or repair your metal roof to your specifications.
Wrongful Metal Roof Hail Damage Insurance Denials Are On the Rise
Most Texas metal roof owners experience hail damage and denting at least once during the roof’s lifetime. After all, most metal roofing systems can last 50 to 100 years. Many come with 30- to 50-year warranties. And Texas is in prime position for frequent hailstorms, pelting our cars, fences, windows, and rooftops with golf ball to softball-size hail stones.
In 2020, Texas held the number one spot in the nation for hail damage insurance claims, filing 637,977 claims between January 2017 to January 2020. Texas holds 23% of all hail damage claims filed across the U.S. during this same time period. Between 2014 and 2018, Texas incurred over $70.5 billion in weather-related property damages – an average $14.1 billion statewide and $1,476 per household annually. [U.S. Department of Commerce, National Weather Service, U.S. Census Bureau]
Long story short, insurance companies representing Texas property owners face potential profit losses during the spring and summer months. And with the recent growth in popularity of metal roofing systems, those losses are becoming more and more feasible.
Why Do Insurance Companies Deny Metal Roof Hail Damage Claims?
Policyholders trust that their insurance company will promptly step up and cover the cost of proper roof replacement and repair in the event of metal roof damage.
Metal roofs can cost anywhere from $50,000 to more than $100,000 – a significant investment for homeowners and commercial building owners. On top of that, metal roof owners pay thousands of dollars for the security and peace of mind that comes with knowing their expensive metal roof is insured should damage occur.
Yet, the growing number of metal roofing systems entering the Texas market have insurance companies like Farmers, Safeco, Liberty Mutual, and Progressive scrambling to save a dollar – wrongfully denying or delaying legitimate metal roof hail damage claims and misrepresenting policies during the sale.
There is no excuse for an insurance company to deny a claim for metal roof hail damage when the policy covers the damage and is paid for. But Texas insurers continue to drop the ball. When this happens, it is typically due to (1) improper interpretation of policy language, or (2) bad faith insurance activity.
Most Common Types of Texas Metal Roof Damage
No product is perfect, and metal roofing is no exception. Metal roofing comes with decades of warranties and guarantees and typically performs to the highest standards. Though metal roofing systems are easily the most robust of all roofing system types, Texas weather can damage even the highest-rated systems.
Common types of metal roof damage include:
- Rust When in contact with moisture, metals containing iron can oxidize, forming rust. Areas of rust formation become weaker than the original metal and can easily develop fractures and leaks. Most metal roofs include a protective coating or are made from rust-resistant materials to help prevent rust formation. However, exposed edges, areas of pooled water, long-term exposure to UV rays, and fractures can all affect rust-resistance and protective coatings, allowing rust to develop over time.
- Altered Flexibility Metal roofs and patched areas must be able to expand and contract with changes in temperature while simultaneously maintaining the ability to shed water and resist wind. An inability to flex properly can cause damage to panels, seams, fasteners, or other components.
- Oil Canning “Oil canning” refers to a visible undulation or wavy pattern that develops in flat areas of metal roofing due to the metal buckling under stress. This stress could occur during production or installation or may result from thermal expansion and contraction, shifting in the underlying structure, or other effects. Oil canning may be considered an aesthetic issue. However, more severe bends can weaken protective coating and promote water pooling. While some level of oil canning can be difficult to avoid with most metal types, proper production and installation will reduce the risk. In addition, designs using fewer flat areas, solid decking, pre-stretched metals, thicker gauges, and matte finishes can help minimize oil canning development and appearance.
- Shifting Fasteners Some metal roof fasteners tend to back out of position over time, leaving gaps vulnerable to air and water leaks.
- Incompatible Materials The use of dissimilar metals side by side can lead to an electrochemical reaction causing galvanic corrosion. When two incompatible materials come into contact, metallic ions form and migrate and the original metals deteriorate. Galvanic corrosion occurs at a more rapid pace in the presence of water, so metal roofing systems are particularly vulnerable. For example, aluminum roofing should use aluminum flashing, screws, nails, and fasteners. Water flowing from copper gutters, flashing, or pipes must not come into contact with aluminum or coated-steel roofing materials. Galvanic corrosion can also occur when Galvalume comes into contact with materials like brick, treated wood, or concrete. When it is impossible to use identical metals, roofers must use two compatible metals or apply a barrier substance to prevent contact between the two incompatible materials.
- Punctures Metal roofing is vulnerable to punctures resulting from tree debris, hail damage, installations (satellite dish, skylight), equipment, or foot traffic.
- Weather Damage Exposure to the elements is the most common cause of metal roof damage, especially in Texas. Metal roofing systems can withstand hurricane-force winds, scorching heat, ice buildup, and heavy rains better than any other roofing material – making metal roofs a priority for many Texas home and building owners. Metal roofs can resist rain damage even in the heaviest downpour as long as all roofing materials are installed and sealed correctly. Similarly, properly installed and fastened metal roofing panels or shingles stand up well against winds of over 140 miles per hour. When wind causes damage to a metal roof, it is most commonly due to improper installation, trees falling on the roof, or high-velocity debris puncturing the metal. Still, under certain conditions, a metal roof may suffer weather-related damage. Texas leads the nation in property losses due to hail storms – with roof damage being the number one claim. From pea-size to the four-inch and larger hailstones we see across the state – hailstorms can cause significant damage to all roofing systems – metal roofs included.Metal roofing systems react differently to hail impacts depending on materials, installation methods, and design. Many can withstand dents and scratches caused by hail depending on the metal type, protective coatings, panel dimensions, underlying structure, and roof slope.For example, more malleable metals and thinner panels will be more vulnerable to denting from debris. Solid deck supports prevent flex and denting better than open framing. Flatter roofing systems are more susceptible to hail damage than steeper sloping roofs.Hailstorms may cause obvious, visible damage in the form of collapses, punctures, denting, or scratches. If severe enough, repairs to panels, shingles, seams, or other components may be necessary to prevent air and water leaks and maintain the system’s integrity.
But hail can also cause hidden, microscopic fractures to protective coatings and metal structures that can lead to rapid rust development, degradation, and corrosion, reducing the roof’s overall lifespan. Many of these hidden damages are impossible for most owners and roof maintenance service teams to detect – and the longer a damaged area goes without repair or replacement, the larger the problem can become (and the less likely insurance companies are willing to pay).
Metal Roof Cosmetic Damage Versus Functional Damage
In the past, property insurance policies covered “physical” property damage. But with the growth in metal roofing claims, major insurance companies like Nationwide, Chubb, UPC, Travelers, Homeowners of America, and Texas Farm Bureau Insurance are attempting to exclude hail damage by defining physical damage to a metal roof as either “functional” or “cosmetic.”
Many Texas insurers will try to claim that your hail damage is merely “cosmetic” and therefore not covered under the policy. Here, the insurance company uses vague language within the insurance policy to try and avoid paying for repairs or full metal roof replacement.
Metal roof panels react to severe weather in different ways – depending on the installation methods, materials, and design styles. Many can tolerate small scratches and hail dents depending on the type of protective coating, metal type, panel dimensions, roof slope, and underlying structure – whether galvanized, stainless steel, aluminum, Galvalume® steel, zinc, copper, corrugated, standing seam, 5V crimp, PBR, R-Panel, U-Panel, shingles, shake, slate sheets, or tile.
Insurance companies may say that your metal roof hail damage only affects the appearance of the roof and does not affect the function of the roof – to protect the underlying structure from air or water leaks. Scratches, dents, or other visible flaws that are not accompanied by punctures, holes, tears, or other leak-causing damage are labeled as “cosmetic” damage.
Likewise, “functional” metal roof damage would be any damage that affects the roof’s ability to shed water or form a barrier to the elements for the service life of the roof.
But in fact, hailstorms cause both functional and cosmetic damage to metal roofs in Texas. Hail can severely damage ridges, seams, caps, flashing, and other exposed connecting points, allowing vapor, air, and water to contaminate the subsurface and drastically reducing wind resistance. Even apparently minor hailstone dents can produce microfractures in protective coating, speeding corrosion and diminishing the metal roofing system’s lifespan.
Today, major insurers like State Farm, Safeco, Farmers, USAA, and Liberty Mutual include cosmetic exclusions in their policies in an attempt to avoid the multitude of hail damage claims – including PURE Insurance (high-net-worth homeowner policies).
Even those business and home insurance policies that do not contain cosmetic damage exclusions per se may include vague language in policies to help the insurer deny non-functional damage coverage over the expected lifespan of the roof.
Your policy may even state that it covers “direct physical loss due to hail.” But language later in the policy may claim that “direct physical loss” does not include scratches, dents, or some other type of damage considered cosmetic by the insurer.
And when the policy does cover cosmetic damage, the insurer will often agree to pay only half of the cost to replace the metal roof or repair the hail damage – or less. Many Texas metal roof insurance policies will cover only patch repair work, excluding full replacement, even when the damage is significant enough to warrant full replacement.
Fortunately, whether your insurance policy excludes cosmetic damage or limits repairs, if you can show a direct physical loss, you deserve damage coverage. And if the insurance company continues refusing to pay for proper metal roof replacement or repair, the policyholder can take further steps to seek their rightful coverage – including filing a lawsuit against the insurer.
Whether you did not realize that your policy contained a cosmetic exclusion, you voluntarily agreed to the cosmetic damage waiver, or were denied coverage for another reason, if your metal roofing system has been impacted by hail and you can demonstrate that the damage affects the lifespan of your metal roof, you have a right to financial compensation according to the terms of the policy you purchased.
Metal Roof Bad Faith Insurance Activity
Should an insurance company unfairly deny your claim for metal roof damage, you may be dealing with bad faith insurance practices. Under Texas Common Law and Chapter 541 of the Texas Insurance Code, insurance companies owe their policyholders a duty to promptly and fairly adjust and settle claims.
Because insurance companies function at an advantage in the insurer – policyholder relationship, when an insurance company breaches these duties, they can be liable to the policyholder for additional amounts – including three times the amount the insurer owed on the claim, interest on delayed payments, court costs, and attorneys’ fees.
In general, bad faith acts are negligent or intentional acts by the insurer to avoid payment. A wide variety of acts may be considered bad faith practices by insurance companies, including delaying adjustment or payment, undervaluing a claim, asking a policyholder not to consult with an attorney, failing to communicate with a policyholder, requesting unnecessary documents or additional copies of documents in an attempt to delay processing or denying a claim when coverage is clear.
To prove a bad faith insurance claim in Texas, the policyholder must show that the insurer committed one of the following:
- Misrepresented a material fact or policy provision
- Denied or delayed a claim of reasonably clear liability
- Failed to reach a settlement in good faith for reasonably clear liability
- Refused a claim without conducting a reasonable investigation
- Failed to affirm or deny coverage within a reasonable time
- Failed to reasonably explain the reason for a claim denial
For example, if your insurer deliberately failed to inform you about the cosmetic exclusion on your insurance policy before selling it to you, and subsequently denied or delayed payment of a claim based on this misrepresentation, that insurer could be liable to you for hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars.
In addition to bad faith acts covered in Texas Common Law and Chapter 541, Texas Insurance Code Chapter 542 requires insurance companies to make claim payments in a specific amount of time. Policyholders with an approved insurance claim who do not receive payment in this amount of time, or who receive underpayment, may be able to recover attorneys’ fees and damages as an annual 18% penalty for violating the prompt payment statute. *10% for weather related claims.
When an insurance company fails to fulfill its legal duties to a policyholder, it may be liable to the policyholder for up to three times the claim amount, plus interest on any late payments, attorneys’ fees, and court costs.
How to Win Insurance Coverage for Metal Roof Hail Damage in Texas
If your Texas metal roof has been damaged by hail or another severe weather event – whether you are a private homeowner or represent a public school district, private school, university, charter school, college, local or state government facility, retirement community, corporate entity, condo board, private business, hospital, medical facility, apartment complex, or other Texas property – you may need to fight for rightful insurance coverage.
Our metal roof hail damage attorneys at Gravely have successfully represented all types of property owners in some of Texas’ most challenging insurance disputes – including those involving:
- Bad faith insurance
- Cosmetic damage waivers / exclusions
- Delayed adjustments
- Delayed payments
- Denied claims
- Failing to affirm or deny coverage within a reasonable time
- Failing to communicate with a policyholder
- Failing to reasonably explain reason for a claim denial
- Failure to promptly reach settlement in good faith
- Metal roof repair / replacement limitations
- Misrepresented material facts or policy provisions
- Refusing a claim without conducting a reasonable investigation
- Requesting unnecessary documents in an attempt to delay processing.
- Undervalued claims
- Wind and hail deductibles
Step 1: Notify Your Insurer of the Loss
Notify your insurance company of your damage in writing. Make a copy of the notice of loss claim for your records. Keep a detailed record of all phone and email communications with the insurance company.
Once you notify your insurance company of the loss, an adjuster may come out to examine the damage. Despite an obviously damaged roof, don’t be surprised if the adjuster’s report concludes that the damage is minimal or cosmetic in nature and therefore is not covered by the policy.
When you continue pursuing your claim, the insurance company may offer a cheap, ineffective solution – like an offer to add a layer of sealant. If dents or other visible damage is present, adding a layer of sealant is not an adequate repair. The insurance company may offer to do a cheaper patch repair rather than replace your roof.
Should you choose to contest the insurance company’s decision, your metal roof damage attorney can help you prepare a demand letter and request coverage under the policy. The insurer may decide to send out an inspector or engineer to take a closer look. This person will often find that the dents do not affect the roof’s ability to protect the home from leaks, therefore the roof is not damaged despite only performing a visual inspection. Again, in cases of metal roof damage, your attorney may advise you that his conclusion is unfair and unacceptable.
Step 2: Gather Evidence
Begin documenting all information related to the damage. Record the date and time that the damage took place. Take photographs of all areas of damage. Secure any video surveillance footage of the storm or event.
Gather all materials related to the value of your metal roof, including receipts showing the date of purchase, warranty information, price paid, maintenance records, repair records, and materials, manufacturer, and installation information. An experienced metal roof damage attorney will be able to advise you on the materials you will need to support your specific claim.
While the insurance company will send their own adjuster or inspector out to assess the state of your roof, these evaluations are typically biased for the insurer. To ensure you receive a true evaluation of the damage, an experienced metal roof attorney will help you obtain a professional, independent inspection team to examine the damage and estimate associated costs.
Step 3: Contact an Experienced Metal Roof Damage Attorney
To get the coverage you deserve from your insurance policy, always file your metal roof damage insurance claim expecting to fight. More often than not, you will be presented with an unfair settlement offer or offer of an ineffective roof treatment.
As soon as possible after you notice damage to your metal roof, you should connect with an experienced metal roof damage attorney – before you contact your insurance company. Your attorney will be able to ensure you receive the maximum possible resolution – whether through negotiations with your insurer or taking your case through to litigation.
Do not worry about the cost of working with a legal expert. At Gravely, we do not take cases we cannot win. Therefore, all of our cases are handled on a contingency basis – meaning our clients pay nothing until we win.
We bear the risk, so the owner doesn’t have to. Our attorneys front all costs – including the costs of onsite expert inspections, sampling, laboratory testing, attorneys’ fees, and case preparation. We only recover those expenses if and when we recover for the owner.
Step 4: File a Metal Roof Damage Lawsuit
Our metal roof damage lawyers don’t settle for financial compensation amounts that merely cover minimal costs. A good Texas metal roof damage lawyer will be able to determine whether going to trial is indeed the best option for you. Should your attorney decide that you are getting a great settlement offer, you can always accept settlement if you believe it is the best decision for you. Just because you chose to file a lawsuit doesn’t mean you are unable to continue negotiations to resolve your dispute.
Texas metal roof damage cases involving hailstorms are among the most difficult to win, requiring extensive knowledge of property insurance law, high-level investigative resources, and engineering and roofing design expertise. Property owners may have to go up against powerful, multi-million-dollar insurance companies. These fierce defendants have deep pockets and can afford prominent legal teams willing to put up a serious fight to lessen their liability.
Metal roof owners need an equally powerful legal team to demonstrate that the damage is indeed considered direct physical loss under the insurance policy and therefore covered. With all-risk policies, the argument for coverage is relatively straightforward. As stated above, many Texas insurance policies covering metal roofs are “all risk policies,” meaning the policy covers all risks of direct physical loss – whether that loss is functional, cosmetic, or a combination of both.
When a policy excludes cosmetic damage, the specific wording used in your policy will determine whether the damage is covered. Though the policy may not cover light dents on your roof, it still covers hail or wind damage system failure, in which case most denting would be covered.
What an insurance company considers “cosmetic” or “functional” damage is often dependent on the training taken by the individual inspector. For example, dents caused by hail may obstruct water runoff, damaged seals, fracture coating, or expedite galvanic corrosion. But a mere photograph of a hail-damaged metal roof is not going to supply enough evidence to convince an insurer that the damage is truly functional and not just cosmetic. Oftentimes the inspectors definition of cosmetic may not be the same as that of your policy.
Even small dents and scratches to the surface of the metal can result in microscopic fractures and points of irreparable weakness that can rapidly deteriorate and drastically affect the life of the metal roof. When necessary, our Gravely metal roof damage attorneys will not hesitate to extract a panel of the damaged roof and transport it to a lab for microscopic analysis.
We win many challenging metal roof damage cases by having a metallurgist take high resolution, high magnification photographs of both sides of the damaged metal and examine these photographs for fractures in the coating or deleterious micro-fractures or fissures in the metal under the coating. This level of evidence demonstrates that the service life of the metal has been reduced by hail impact.
Quality, convincing laboratory evidence helps maximize the settlement value. While the owner accepts the risk of having a panel extracted from their metal roof for lab analysis, the resulting reports can be invaluable in maximizing payment by demonstrating that the damage is indeed covered under the insurance policy. Insurance defense attorneys prefer to fight cases where the property owner cannot produce concrete evidence of functional damage.
Act Fast. Texas metal roof damage insurance dispute cases are incredibly challenging and subject to strict statutes of limitations. Therefore, it is critical that you contact an experienced Texas insurance dispute lawyer as soon as possible – either directly after the damage occurs, or the moment you have difficulty collecting insurance coverage for hail or other adverse weather damage.
Gravely attorneys work on a contingency basis. You pay nothing if we don’t win your case.
Located in Dallas, Texas, Gravely metal roof damage attorneys represent building owners and homeowners in Houston, San Antonio, Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin, Corpus Christi, Arlington, Plano, El Paso, Lubbock, Laredo, and across the state of Texas.
For more information on metal roof hail damage claims, download our free eBook – Texas Metal Roof Damage Claims – Complete Guide to Cosmetic Damage Exclusions and Insurance Recovery.