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Minnesota Match Law Affirmed by Supreme Court

The Minnesota Supreme Court yesterday decided that insurance companies must replace all of the shingles on a roof or all of the siding on the walls when damaged pieces can't be replaced with materials that match the undamaged pieces. 

Before this decision in Cedar Bluff Townhome Condominium Association Inc. v American Family Mutual Insurance Co., insurers routinely denied paying for full replacement where materials they considered "good enough" were available, even if the result was a blotchy exterior with mismatched shingles and siding. The court stopped short of saying that the replacement material must be an exact match, but they acknowledged that a home with a blotchy appearance is still damaged, albeit only visually, which most replacement cost insurance policies provide coverage to repair.

As with all court decisions, this holding is very fact dependent and shouldn't be interpreted to be more broad than it actually is. Nevertheless, Minnesota homeowners finally have relief from insurance companies that, for decades, have gotten away with cheating homeowners out of a full settlement of their storm damage claims by forcing them to accept a partial repair that left their homes looking far worse than they did before the storm.

Minnesota contractors and exterior supply companies are beneficiaries of this new match law. Rather than having to weave mis-matched new materials into existing older materials, and fighting with insurance adjusters over which pieces of siding or individual shingles are damaged enough to be replaced, contractors will be able to give their customers beautiful final projects that everyone is happy with. While contractors must continue to use caution not to violate Minnesota's public adjuster laws, the Cedar Bluff Townhome decision should make it easier to help homeowners get back to where they were before the storm.

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