Walnut Creek Townhome Ass’n v. Depositors Insurance Co.Annotate this Case
Appraisers may determine the factual cause of damage to insured property to ascertain the amount of the loss, but coverage questions are to be resolved by the court.
In the instant case, the district court rejected an insurance appraisal award for hail damage to roofing shingles. The property insurer denied coverage for hail caused damage to the asphalt shingles based on a preexisting manufacturing defect. The insured townhome association sued the insurer for breach of contract and invoked the appraisal provision of the property insurance policy to ascertain the amount of the loss from the hailstorm. The appraisal panel valued the hail damage loss at $1.4 million. The district court found no shingle damage from hail, applied an exclusion for defective materials, and rejected the appraisal award. The Supreme Court remanded the case, holding (1) the district court erred by disregarding the appraisal award’s determination of the amount of the loss for shingles damaged by the hailstorm; and (2) the issue of the extent of preexisting shingle damage excluded from coverage must be decided by the court on remand.