The United States has experienced many violent storm seasons in recent years, resulting in devastating damage and costly repairs. To combat rising expenses, insurance companies implemented a number of steps that might limit payouts for property insurance claims. As a part of this initiative, some insurance companies adopted exclusions for “cosmetic damage” or “appearance damage” to properties. While not every home or business policy currently includes these kinds of exclusions, major insurers have put them in place—and policyholders may not even be aware their coverage changed.
To help you get up to speed, here's some information about cosmetic damage, how to determine the type of storm damage to your property, and why it's important to check your current coverage.
What Is Cosmetic Damage in a Property Insurance Claim?
Cosmetic damage exclusions largely apply to the exterior elements of a home or business, such as the roof, siding, windows, or doors. It's generally defined as damage that affects the appearance of a property but does not interfere with the function of the damaged area. For example, when hail dents a metal roof, it may be considered cosmetic if there are no punctures, leaks, or other damages that compromise the function of the roof.
When Is Cosmetic Damage Covered by Property Insurance Policies?
Individual policies vary quite a bit in how they cover damage to the appearance of a property, and the coverage can surprisingly difficult to understand. For example, some policies exclude cosmetic damage, but will technically cover direct physical loss from hail, even if it did not involve structural damage. What this means is, in some policies, a dented roof may be excluded, but a roof dented by hail would be covered.
In practice, what the insurance company considers cosmetic damage is rarely straightforward. In the example of the dented metal roof, what happens if the dents have subtly affected drainage, runoff, or seals? What happens when repairs for cosmetic damage to a home or business cost tens of thousands of dollars? It’s truly confusing, and this is why it’s important to call your insurance company and ask specific questions about your coverage. If you don’t have a good understanding of the insurance industry and its lingo, the guidelines of the policy may seem murky when you really need to know if your storm claim will be accepted.
How Can I Get Help If My Property Insurance Claim Is Unfairly Denied?
Questions about cosmetic damage can be difficult enough when the insurance company is playing fairly, but insurance companies can also unfairly profit from confusion over exclusions. Don’t let a lack of information keep you from asserting your rights or getting what you deserve after a loss. If you need help after your claim has been unfairly denied, delayed, or underpaid, you can reach out to the experienced attorneys with the Voss Law Firm today at 888-614-7730, or learn more about how insurance companies avoid paying legitimate claims by requesting our free book, Tricks of the Trade.