Tips for Identifying Intentional (Advertent) Damage to Asphalt Shingles – Introduction – Part 1
We have often been engaged to evaluate damage to asphalt shingle roofs. Some of our evaluations have concluded that the damage was intentionally applied in a fashion that appears to mimic hail or wind damage. By intentional we mean advertent, that is, the damage was applied with attention and not accidently.
Our first experience with intentional (advertent) roof damage was in the mid-1990s. The damage was obviously intentional: each mark on the roof matched the size of a ball peen hammer, each mark exhibited pulverized granules, and the marks were not present when the claims representative photographed the roof a few weeks earlier. Since that time the frequency of reports issued with a professional opinion regarding intentionally damaged shingles has increased.
The increased frequency in the number of intentionally damaged roofs over the years indicates to us that intentional manual damage must be a profitable venture. We have gathered from the comments of roofers that the brashness of the perpetrator has been encouraged by the lack of diligence by the insurance carriers and the lack of concern by law enforcement. That is, for one reason or another the alleged hail or wind damage to shingles is not being appropriately examined and evaluated, but determination for coverage is often being based on the number of roofs being replaced in the immediate area or the number of yard signs placed by roofers or a quick look from the top of a ladder strategically placed by the roofer. Additionally, there is no penalty for being caught since law enforcement is not pursuing these “petty crimes.” From our conversations with roofers we have come to understand that as long as the insurance carriers and law enforcement continue to handle intentional manual damage claims in this fashion, there will be a proliferation of these non-meritorious claims.
The result has been higher home insurance premiums for all and sometimes passionate outrage by the claimant and his advocate, usually the roofer who hopes to get the roof replacement job, when a claim is denied. But maybe there is some hope.
The National Insurance Crime Bureau hosted an informational meeting regarding intentionally mimicked hail and wind damage in March 2013, to assist those in the insurance claims industry and law enforcement in the evaluation of non-meritorious roof damage claims. Those organizing the conference had experts who discussed the seriousness of the situation and the procedures and methods that may be employed to pursue those who commit fraud. The conference was intended by scope estimators, insurance claims representatives, property claims managers, insurance claim investigators, law enforcement personnel, investigating engineers, etc. Two of our engineers gave a presentation regarding the identification of intentionally mimicked hail damage and the identification of intentionally mimicked wind damage.
In our next blog we will discuss the basic principles we presented that are useful for identifying intentional manual damage that appears to mimic hail or wind damage.