The Florida Senate recently moved along a bill that could affect future insurance claims on roof damage. Sen. Jim Boyd’s SB 1728 would allow policies to limit many homeowners by offering to pay in cash, instead of offering a full replacement. With a similar bill (HB 1307) recently passed, it’s uncertain whether or not this bill will be fully accepted and passed. House Speaker, Chris Sprowls, explained, “We’re evaluating all the proposals … but I’m also cognizant of the fact that we just passed a very significant insurance bill last session. If what has been told to me in the eight years that I’ve been here, from the insurance lobby, is true, that it takes 18 months to see an impact on rates, then we’re not yet seeing the impact.” Sprowls is referring to SB 76 that was passed just last year.
What is SB 76?
The bill states:
Property Insurance; Providing that, for certain attorney fees awarded for claims arising under surplus lines property insurance policies, a strong presumption is created that a lodestar fee is sufficient and reasonable; providing that certain provisions relating to homeowners’ policies, offers of replacement cost coverage, and offers of law and ordinance coverage do not prohibit insurers from providing specified property insurance policies by including roof covering reimbursement schedules; revising property insurance coverages for which a notice of claim must be given to the insurer within a specified timeframe; requiring notice of intent to initiate litigation, etc.
In common language, the SB 76 provides the following changes to property insurance claims for roof damage:
- It shortens the time you have to file insurance claims.
- It puts a cap on when multipliers pertain to lodestar attorney’s fee awards.
- It requires closing statements to be itemized and filed with the Department of Financial Services.
- It allows insurers to offer discounted roof replacement policies based on the age of the roof.
How Can These Bills Affect Me as a Homeowner?
Here in Florida, roof damage is common. Thanks to hurricanes and hail, many homeowners experience damage to their homes, and a regular location for that damage is the roof. These billsl essentially change your chances of getting appropriate coverage for any roof damage you suffer. Right now, insurance companies are in a serious financial bind where they have consistently lost money. Insurers argue fraud, dirty contractors, storms, and attorney’s fees as the culprits that have hijacked the cost of their policies. One major concern is that new roof claims are still being filed for the hurricanes of 2017 and 2018.
When it comes to coverage for your roof damage, there will be a drastic change in the coverage you receive. Instead of getting the entire cost of a roof replacement, SB 76 provides a reimbursement amount that is based on the lifespan of the roof. Imagine the cost of a brand new roof, but now deduct the amount of years that have already been put on your current roof. What you are then left with is the basis of the coverage you would receive to put towards your roof damage. It is a stark difference from what is currently offered, and all homeowners should be aware of this serious effect. Many homeowners do not quite understand the severity of the decrease in coverage. Additionally, this penalizes homeowners who have paid their premiums faithfully for decades. In a state like Florida, roof damage is bound to happen and reducing coverage will likely hurt most policy holders instead of helping them.
Sen. Jim Boyd wants to continue making moves to better this situation with the passing of SB 1728. He recently stated, “I’m optimistic that (the House will) consider what we’ve done and then we’ll talk about how to fine tune it as we move forward. If we do nothing … the market will get worse, rates will continue to go up. We just can’t continue to let that happen to Floridians that we’re here to represent.”
Your Next Steps in Closing Roof Damage Claims
Laws are constantly changing, and it is up to you to make yourself as knowledgable of these changes as you can. However, a trusted attorney can help you safeguard your home and policies, but it is up to you to protect yourself during these moments of emergency. If you believe your insurance company is purposely avoiding your open claim due to roof damage, contact us today at Keller, Melchiorre, and Walsh PLLC. You need legal representation you can trust to gather inventory of your damage, document expenses, and negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf. Our experienced team is ready to fight for you and get you back on the road to property damage recovery.