Utah Court Of Appeals Rules That Homeowner Policy Did Not Cover Water Infiltration Caused By Storm When The Water Entered Into The Property Through A Partially Completed Roof

On Behalf of | Oct 27, 2017 | Insurance Law

In Poulsen v. Farmers Insurance Exchange, 26 UT App. 170 (2016) the court found that Farmers’ homeowners policy did not provide coverage for water intrusion from a wind storm when the water entered into the house through a partially completed roof. The roof contained only roofing components that were in place at the time of the storm and was not a roof.

In this case the homeowners were in the process of replacing the roof shingles on their house. They had removed the shingles and the black felt tar that lay underneath the shingles, revealing the plywood deck. A new ice and water shield (IWS) was placed over the plywood. However, before the job was completed, i.e., there were no new shingles, there was a sudden storm bringing torrential rains. The storm winds ripped the IWS and plywood, allowing water to enter and damage the house.

The insureds argued that the loss was covered because the damage was caused by rain that entered through an opening in the roof as provided for by the policy. However, the limited water coverage provision of the policy specified that a “roof . . . does not include a temporary roof . . . or any kind of temporary tarp, sheeting, or other coverage.” Because of this Farmers argued that the policy did not cover water damage unless the water entered through an opening in the roof caused by the windstorm and that a “roof” was not a temporary roof or other type of covering. Farmers argued that the plywood and IWS was only a temporary roof and therefore was excluded from coverage.

Farmers’ motion for summary judgment was granted by the trial court. The trial court found there was no roof as contemplated by the policy. The Utah Court of Appeals affirmed. The Utah Court of Appeals found that the policy could not be fairly interpreted to include an incomplete roofing system.