Residents decry insurer's policy Owners of homes damagedby hail want State Farm to replace all siding


In the three months since a hail storm left large dents and small scuffs on the mostly aluminum-sided homes in Provinces and other Severn neighborhoods, home repair crews have spread through the communities.

But several dozen Provinces homeowners say that while their neighbors are having the siding on their homes completely replaced, their insurance company, State Farm, is offering to replace only damaged siding and that they are left with mismatched siding.

State Farm officials say they are not required to replace all of the siding on a home when only a portion has been damaged.

As a result, about 70 State Farm customers, led by longtime resident Albert Goergens and Marie Cook, president of the Provinces Civic Association, have launched a campaign to pressure the company into completely replacing their siding.

"All the homeowners want is for their homes to be the same way it was before the hail storm," Cook said. "They are not asking for super-duper siding."

The homeowners expressed their outrage at the January meeting of the civic association and have enlisted the aid of their General Assembly delegation to contact the Maryland Insurance Administration on their behalf.

Dels. Michael W. Burns, Mary Ann Love and James E. Rzepkowski of District 32 and Sen. C. Edward Middlebrooks wrote to the commission Friday, arguing that the State Farm customers in Provinces deserved to have their homes completely re-sided.

"We feel that we are being treated as second-class citizens," said Goergens, who has lived in his two-story home on Lyons Court since it was built 20 years ago. His next-door neighbor's insurance company paid for a complete re-siding job, but a State Farm appraiser offered Goergens $2,800 to do only two sides of the house. A contractor said it would cost $10,000 to do the entire house and roof.

"They changed the game plan without notifying us," Goergens said.

The oldest homes in the middle-class community of more than 900 homes between Disney, Ridge and Severn roads are 25 years old, Cook said.

Recent policy change

State Farm, the largest home insurer in the state, used to replace all of the siding on a home when only a portion had been damaged under a "long-term agreement" with the Maryland Insurance Administration to settle claims that way, company officials said.

But last year, the administration agreed that State Farm would not have to pay for the full replacement, said Bill Krauter, manager of State Farm's fire division for Maryland, Delaware and Washington.

"We don't believe we have an obligation to pay for that other undamaged siding," Krauter said. The company made the change July 1.

Insurance Administration officials said a company is not required to submit its claims policy for review, but State Farm consulted the administration last summer, said John Quinn, supervisor of the agency's inquiry and investigation division.

"State Farm had asked me some questions about whether or not they were required to replace all the siding on a house that's damaged," Quinn said. "My answer was 'No.' "

But if a homeowner says the replacement siding would not match the existing siding, "the insurance company must address that problem," Quinn said.

"The insurance company cannot say, 'We will only address the damaged siding.' "

Allstate Insurance Co., the second-largest home insurer in Maryland, does not have a set policy on replacing damaged siding but would replace undamaged siding if that was required to make the house "look right," said Matthew Stegle, a company spokesman.

Nationwide Insurance replaces the damaged siding and has the house power-washed to make the siding appear uniform, said spokesman Bob Sohovich.

Pub Date: 2/11/97

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