Earlier this year, Florida was facing what can only be described as an “insurance crisis.” Millions of homeowners were faced with skyrocketing premiums, cancellation notices, and a rapidly shrinking market of insurance companies willing to write policies. The good news is that recently passed legislation offers some relief for homeowners who need to purchase roof damage coverage as well as those with a roof damage claim.
Why Was Insurance Legislation Needed?
By the beginning of 2022, the property insurance market in Florida was in serious financial trouble. Private insurers were showing net losses in the billions of dollars. While the causes of the insurance market financial crisis are complex, property owners felt the repercussions. Along with dramatically increased rates, homeowners were receiving cancellation notices from bankrupt insurers and finding very few available options for replacing coverage. Homeowners with a roof over 15 years old were being forced to replace the roof, regardless of the condition, as a condition of renewing or purchasing homeowners’ insurance coverage. With the Atlantic Hurricane season right around the corner, millions of Florida property owners looked to the legislature to intervene.
In April, Governor Ron DeSantis signed a proclamation calling on the Florida Legislature to convene for a special session in response to Florida’s current property insurance market. On May 24, 2022, the Florida Legislature passed Senate Bill 2-D, addressing property insurance, and Senate Bill 4-D, addressing building safety.
What Does the New Law Mean for Homeowners?
Senate Bill 2-D provides much-needed relief and protection for homeowners who need to purchase roof damage insurance as well as for those filing a roof damage claim. Important highlights of the new law include:
Roof Deductible. Property insurers may include a separate roof deductible of up to two percent of the Coverage A limit of the policy or 50% of the cost to replace the roof with the following caveats:
Insurers must offer an option to decline the roof deductible and if a separate roof deductible is added to the policy at renewal, a notice of change in policy terms must be provided.
If a homeowner accepts the separate roof deductible, they must also receive an “actuarially sound premium credit or discount.”
Roof deductible does not apply to:
A total loss to the primary structure caused by a covered peril.
A loss caused by a hurricane.
A roof loss resulting from a tree fall or other hazard that damages the roof and punctures the roof deck.
A roof loss that requires the repair of less than 50% of the roof.
If the roof deductible applies, no additional deductible can be applied.
A roof deductible only applies to a claim adjusted on a replacement cost basis.
Payment for a roof claim may be limited to the actual cash value of the loss to the roof until the insurer receives reasonable proof of payment by the policyholder of the roof deductible.
A roof deductible provision must be clear and unambiguous and must include the following disclosures:
A notice that a roof deductible may result in high out-of-pocket expenses to the policyholder. This notice must be on the page immediately behind the declarations page.
Prominent display of the actual dollar value of the roof deductible at issuance and renewal on the policy declarations page.
Roof Underwriting. Effectively abolishes the “15-year” roof replacement requirement. Specifically:
An insurer cannot refuse to issue or refuse to renew a homeowner’s insurance policy for a residential structure with a roof that is less than 15 years old solely because of the age of the roof.
If a roof is at least 15 years old, an insurer must allow a homeowner to have a roof inspection performed by an authorized inspector at the homeowner’s expense before requiring the replacement of the roof as a condition of issuing or renewing a homeowner’s insurance policy. If an inspection indicates that the roof has five years or more of useful life, an insurer cannot refuse to insure or renew.
Claims Handling. Provides several important protections for homeowners filing a roof claim, including:
Physical inspection of the property related to a claim must occur within 45 days of receiving proof of loss statements; however, this does not apply to hurricane claims.
Policyholders must be notified of the right to receive any detailed report generated by an adjuster that estimates the amount of the loss and the report must be provided within the latter of seven days after a request or the completion of the report.
Insurers must provide a reasonable explanation of the claim decision in relation to the insurance policy, facts, and law and if the payment is less than the adjuster’s estimate, the insurer must explain the discrepancy.
Creates a statutory exception to the Florida Building Code so that roofs that are more than 25% damaged but already comply with the 2007 Florida Building Code may be repaired instead of being required to be replaced.
Contractor Solicitation of Roof Claims. Written or electronic solicitations from contractors for roof repairs/replacement must include notice that:
The consumer is responsible for the payment of any deductible.
It is insurance fraud punishable as a third-degree felony for a contractor to pay or waive an insurance deductible.
It is insurance fraud punishable as a third-degree felony to intentionally file an insurance claim containing false, fraudulent, or misleading information.
Get Help from an Experienced Florida Roof Damage Claim Lawyer
If you need assistance with a roof damage claim, contact an experienced Florida roof damage claim lawyer at Malik Law P.A. for help. We have the experience and resources necessary to take on your insurance company and get your claim paid in full.
Call us at 407-500-1000 or submit our online form today. One of our experienced Florida roof damage lawyers will explain your rights to you and discuss your legal options at no cost.
Imran Malik, rated AV® Preeminent, by Martindale-Hubbell, is the founding member of Malik Law P.A. An AV® Rating signifies that a lawyer has reached the heights of professional excellence. He has practiced law for a number of years, and is recognized for the highest levels of skill and integrity by fellow attorneys in his area of practice. Martindale-Hubbell is the oldest and most trusted lawyer information service in America.