Do You Have This Shingle on Your House?

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Homeowners with a controversial shingle on their roof want the Georgia Insurance Commissioner to stand with them.

But despite his earlier comments to the FOX 5 I-Team, critics said Commissioner Ralph Hudgens' office has done little to convince certain insurance companies to replace damaged roofs that have the Atlas Chalet shingle.

In May, the FOX 5 I-Team first told you about the Atlas Chalet controversy: affordable shingles nailed onto thousands of Georgia roofs.
   
But when Atlas stopped making the Chalet in 2010, roofers discovered replacement shingles from other companies didn't fit. They were all too big.
   
"If you put a regular architectural shingle in there it looks terrible," public adjuster Matt Mulholland told us.

So when homeowners suffered partial storm damage, many insurance companies agreed to replace their entire Atlas Chalet roof. But others, like Allstate and American Family Insurance often refused, insisting they should not have to pay for a new roof simply because of a few damaged shingles.

Allstate saying "in cases where a repair is warranted, we will pay for the roof to be repaired."

American Family Insurance saying if it replaced an entire roof when only a few shingles are damaged "rates would likely be impacted" for all Georgia customers.

In May, we showed Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens the difference in shingle size.

"If it was hail or wind damage, then they're obligated to replace the roof," he told FOX 5 I-Team reporter Randy Travis.
"Even if it's a couple of shingles?" Randy asked.
"If they can't get a suitable match, yes."
"The whole roof," Randy asked to make sure he was clear.
"Yep," replied Commissioner Hudgens.

But homeowner Larry Woolard learned his insurance company would only pay to replace 21 storm-damaged Atlas Chalet shingles, and Tim Holland's would only pay for seven, instead of a new roof like many of their neighbors. Each complained to the insurance commissioner's office, upset they'd be stuck with a patchwork roof or questionable replacement shingles from discontinued supply houses.

"Their response to my complaint was well, we can't force them to pay," Holland said of his dealings with the Insurance Commissioner's office. "Your resolution is to take them to court. If the Insurance Commission won't stand up against what they've already said shouldn't be an acceptable practice, and they don't do anything, then I feel kind of helpless."

Just a few days after the Insurance Commissioner's office told them they couldn't help, Holland got a letter from American Family Insurance saying a recent inspection found "ineligible shingles." Replace your roof… or we're dropping you as a customer.

American Family Insurance already admitted those letters contained "bad language" and should have stated that the reason for the letter was the poor condition of the roof rather than the brand of shingles.

But there could be some new hope now for Atlas Chalet homeowners. In a statement, Hudgens' office said they have started an outside review of Atlas Chalet complaints… "that exam is still ongoing." The office is looking at whether there are "possible violations of the Georgia Unfair Claims Settlement Practices Act" and the department may ask for new legislation to better handle such Atlas Chalet complaints.

So homeowners continue to hold off repairs while battling their insurance company. But they say the Insurance Commissioner can't afford to wait much longer.

"He's going to have to do something before the next major storm comes through Atlanta and causes severe damage to a lot of Atlas Chalet roof houses," said homeowner Larry Woolard.

(Here's the full statement from the Georgia Insurance Commissioner's office on the Atlas Chalet controversy:)

"The Atlas Chalet shingles issue first came to the Commissioner's attention in May of this year.  Since that time, we have sought information from the top 10 homeowner insurers in Georgia and one other insurer that had a disproportionate share of complaints.  In response, the Department launched a market conduct examination of one of these companies to investigate this matter further.  That exam is still ongoing.

The Department's Consumer Services Division reached out to those consumers who contacted us with concerns pertaining to Atlas Chalet shingles.  Department representatives have urged insurance companies to resolve complaints to the satisfaction of the consumers.

Analyses of the claims handling procedures and policies issued by those companies are being conducted to determine if there are possible violations of the Georgia Unfair Claims Settlement Practices Act.  Additionally, the Department may pursue new regulations or legislation, if necessary, that pertains to these claims handling practices."
 

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