That’s a good question. Your Florida roof is probably rated for 30 years, right? If it’s only 15 or 16 years old, why are you so limited with your homeowner’s insurance options? This has become a big issue here in Florida over the last several years, and it makes shopping for insurance very difficult if your roof isn’t brand new. So why do insurance companies care, and why are they being so picky? There are 3 main reasons, and we will look at those in more detail below.
Reasons Florida Roof Guidelines Have Gotten Strict
As I mentioned, there are 3 main reasons that roof guidelines have gotten strict lately. The first is obvious here in Florida – storm damage – and this is a struggle that we always have with hurricanes and tropical storms being so prevalent. The second and third are a little more recent and less known – contractor solicitations and attorney fees.
Living here in Florida, we know that every year we face hurricane season. Hurricanes, tropical storms, tornadoes, and just regular wind and hail can do a number on our roofs. This is especially true after the roofs sit in the Florida sun, which often shortens their overall lifespan. Most home insurance covers damage from these types of storms if you don’t have exclusions in your policy. As the number of storms and severity of storms increases, the claims and damages from this weather also increases and impacts our rates and guidelines. While this is an obvious risk here in Florida, it is one that we always have dealt with and it can be dealt with moving forward.
Have you had a roofing contractor knock on your door or send you a letter wanting to inspect your house for storm damage? This is a relatively new phenomenon, but I got a letter at my house recently from a roofer. The roofs in my neighborhood are about 17 years old, and many have started being replaced. The letter said that he replaced a roof on this street and another on the adjacent street due to storm damage, and he’d like to inspect my roof to see if my roof has been impacted with storm damage.
Legitimate storm damage should be fixed by your insurance subject to your policy terms, but I’ve heard too many stories where these free roof inspections create damage or exaggerate cosmetic damage to allow the roofer to put in a claim for the homeowner.
Often times they have the homeowner sign an assignment of benefits so that they can handle the claim settlement on the homeowner’s behalf. When they submit the claim, they end up inflating the costs so that a Florida roof that should cost $10,000 gets billed for $30,000. What if the insurance company doesn’t pay the inflated cost? Well that brings us to #3…
The way it has been set up, let’s say the roofing company sues the insurance company because they don’t want to pay the inflated price. If they end having to pay anything – even 0.01, they have to pay all of the attorney fees. This makes it to where there isn’t really an incentive for a company not to sue the insurance company and it ends up costing the insurance company way more in attorney fees and litigation costs. In the long-run this all gets passed along to us as policyholders. A recent report showed that Florida has 8% of all US homeowner’s claims, but 76% of all litigation! You can imagine that is a problem.
What is Being Done to Help Florida Roof Guidelines?
There were some bills going through Tallahassee this year to try and address these problems. Senate Bill 76 (more details) tried to address the situation from several aspects. While changing Florida roof coverage to actual cash value instead of replacement cost was ultimately removed from the bill, several things remained:
- Prohibits advertising by electronic communication, phone call, or document that solicits a claim. It also prohibits offering incentives for performing a roof inspection.
- Changes the one-way attorney fee provisions. Now, if the claimant gets over 50% of the disputed amount, the insurance company must pay their attorney fees. If they are awarded 20-50%, they get a proportional amount of attorney fees. Lastly, if they get under 20%, the insurance company doesn’t pay attorney fees.
- Reduces claims deadline to 2 years from the date of loss or damage.
- Must notify insurance company 10 days before filing lawsuit.
Will these reforms solve the problem? Time will tell. Insurance officials say it is about 40% of what is actually needed, but it’s a step in the right direction. We won’t see immediate changes, though, until it filters through and the results are seen in the next year or two. Hopefully it improves and helps to improve our current Florida roof issues.
If you need help finding insurance coverage for your home, call our team at Think Safe Insurance – 813-425-1626. We work with many different companies with different types of roof guidelines, and we will work to get your the best options at the best price for your current situation.