Howd & Ludorf Attorneys Win Summary Judgment in Case of First Impression in Property Insurance

For years, policyholders and public adjusters argued that damage to a few pieces of vinyl siding required the homeowners’ carrier to re-side the entire house. Otherwise, they claimed, the replacement siding would not exactly match the existing siding on all sides of the house. This resulted in a windfall for homeowners and public adjusters. In 2013, the Connecticut Legislature enacted Conn. Gen. Stat. § 38a-316e, entitled “Matching of adjacent items under real property covered loss.” The so-called “matching” statute only requires that the insurer replace items “adjacent to” the damaged area. Nevertheless, public adjusters still demanded that the entire siding be replaced. However, on April 30, 2019, in a case of first impression, Judge Robert Shapiro held that the matching statute is clear and unambiguous, and only requires that the areas immediately adjacent to the damaged siding be replaced. Kamansky v. Liberty Mutual Insurance Company, Docket No.: HHD-CV18-6094809-S. In Kamansky, the homeowner drove his own car into his garage abutment, and damaged a 2’ x 3’ section of vinyl siding. The Kamanskys hired Connecticut Claims Adjusters, LLC, to demand that the entire house be re-sided. Liberty Mutual offered to re-side the front elevation of the residence, but the plaintiffs rejected Liberty’s offer and filed suit. The parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment as to the scope of the matching statute. Judge Shapiro, in a well-written opinion, agreed with Liberty Mutual, and concluded that “contrary to the plain language of the statute, the plaintiffs’ interpretation, that replacing all the siding is required, would involve replacing siding which is not adjacent to the damaged area.” The decision is also applicable to other types of claims, notably roof damage claims, where policyholders and public adjusters demand that the entire roof be re-shingled, often at a cost of tens of thousands of dollars, even if only one or two shingles are damaged.