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Oregon Supreme Court: What is a “Roof” for Insurance Purposes?


Dewsnup v. Farmers Insurance Company of Oregon, (SC 057895), decided September 16, 2010:

Supreme Court Media Release:

“…Today, the Oregon Supreme Court ruled that, based on plaintiffs’ expert’s affidavit, the question whether a roof, after a homeowner has begun to disassemble and repair it, remained a “roof” for the purposes of a homeowners’ insurance policy, was a question of fact that must be decided by a jury rather than being determined by a judge on summary judgment….” (Read full 9/16/10, Media Release or full opinion.)

From full opinion:

The primary question in this case is what is a “roof” within the meaning of plaintiffs’ homeowners’ insurance policy. Plaintiffs Beth and Tim Dewsnup sustained losses due to water damage while their roof was undergoing repair. Although their insurance policy generally excludes coverage for water damage, they contended that an exception to that exclusion applies. The trial court ruled otherwise on defendant’s motion for summary judgment, and the Court of Appeals affirmed. Dewsnup v. Farmers Ins. Co., 229 Or App 314, 324, 211 P3d 354 (2009). The Court of Appeals reasoned that the exception to the water damage exclusion did not apply because, at the time of the loss, plaintiffs’ roof was not a “roof” within the meaning of the policy. Id. In particular, the court held that a “roof,” by its ordinary definition, is permanent, and because plaintiffs’ roof was undergoing repair at the time of the loss, no permanent roof was in place to which the exception could apply. Id. We allowed plaintiffs’ petition for review and now reverse the Court of Appeals decision and the trial court’s judgment….” (Link to full opinion.)

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