“Sistering” and the Repair of a Home
Many times we have heard about adjusters telling policyholders they plan to “sister” a joice to repair a damaged property. This means they are leaving a charred piece and prop it up with a new piece of framing. The example below illustrates why this is not an acceptable answer to a damaged frame for a property.
We are a public adjusting firm. Our client’s home is insured on an independently filed HO 00 03 05 01.
A recent fire did much damage to the home. Part of that damage was the charring of the framing. Instead of replacing the charred framing members, the insurer wants to use a technique called “sistering.” This technique involves leaving the charred piece in place and installing a new piece next to it. The adjuster says that sistering is an acceptable means of repair and refuses to actually replace the damaged framing.
We have enclosed a copy of the policy for your perusal.
The policy you sent is worded differently from the ISO policy. The ISO homeowners policy promises to replace damaged building property with “material of like kind and quality and for like use.” It makes no mention of how this is to be done. It does not place any limitations on construction methods to be used. The ISO policy would pay to replace the charred timbers with new ones.
On the other hand, your client’s policy says that it will repair or replace the damaged property “with construction techniques and materials commonly used by the building trades in standard new construction.”
“Sistering,” as we understand it, means that the damaged frame is propped up by the timber fastened next to it. The adjuster may be correct in that this technique is an accepted means of structure repair—repair of an existing structure. However, the policy calls for the use of “common construction techniques and materials used by the building trades in standard new construction.” By definition, sistering could not be a technique used in new construction.
The wording of the policy has committed the insurer to replacing the frame members with new pieces.