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Insurance weighing shift in roof policies

Posted on Monday, September 24, 2012 at 4:49 pm

In recent months, some property and casualty insurers in Tennessee have filed to expand or shift their roofing policy terms to include actual cash value policies.

As a result, the Department of Commerce and Insurance is reaching out to consumers to help them understand the difference in coverage.

Actual Cash Value policies pay consumers for the replacement costs minus any applicable depreciation. Depreciation can be thought of as “wear and tear” or age.

Replacement Cost policies pay consumers for what the damaged/destroyed item or structure would cost in today’s dollars. These policies do not account for any wear and tear or for the age of the item.

Replacement Cost benefits will generally pay more for a claim than will ACB benefits. However, not all dwelling/items will qualify for full replacement benefits – determinations may be made on a situation-by-situation basis as companies inspect properties to resolve coverages they may make available based on the property’s condition and the company’s underwriting guidelines.

For example, consider a hypothetical, $10,000 roof that is now five years old. Assume that the roof needs to be replaced entirely and the homeowner has a $1,000 policy deductible.

Under an ACV policy, the insurance company may determine that $500 of wear and tear/depreciation occurred each year since the roof was installed. At the time of the claim, the company would pay $6,500. Depreciation would have reduced the payment by $2,500 (five years multiplied by $500 wear and tear per year) and the $1,000 deductible would have reduced the payment the other $1,000. The consumer would choose between making up the difference to pay for a roof of similar quality, or using the money to install a roof available at that price.

Under a Replacement Cost policy, the insurance company would pay the amount required to replace the roof with similar-quality materials at today’s cost, minus the deductible. In the event that the same roof costs $11,000 at the time of the claim, the company would pay $10,000-$11,000 for the replacement roof, minus the $1,000 deductible. (Note:  Insurance companies may initially pay the actual cash value for the roof, $6,500 and then reimburse the difference following submission of a receipt.)

Tennessee insurance consumers should not feel that they must accept or keep a policy that does not cover their needs. TDCI encourages consumers to shop around when seeking a policy and at renewal to ensure that they receive the coverage that they want at a price that they can accept.

Consumers should also read their policies to better understand their coverage terms and should feel free to ask questions of agents and brokers. The Department of Commerce and Insurance helps customers understand insurance policies daily through its Consumer Insurance Services section, which may be contacted at 615-741-2218 or CIS.complaints@tn.gov.

The Department of Commerce and Insurance works to protect consumers, while ensuring fair competition for industries and professionals who do business in Tennessee.