House Bill 2102 comes into effect September 1st.
Homeowners in North Texas will no longer be able to use a “free roof” under a new law that comes into force on September 1st.
Under the Texas House Bill 2102, approved in the last legislature, roofers who offer to waive a homeowner’s deductible from their property insurance could face jail sentences.
The practice of foregoing deductibles by roofers is commonplace in North Texas, said cell lawyer Steven Badger.
“In North Texas, the expectation has been that in the event of hail damage, the contractor would waive your deductible and give you a free roof,” said Badger.
Although common, the practice has been illegal in Texas since 1989. But “poorly written” law resulted in poor enforcement, Badger said.
HB 2102 requires roofers to include bold language in their contracts stating that homeowners must pay the deductible as part of their property insurance. The law makes it a criminal offense for a roofer to pay, waive, absorb, reimburse or offset a deductible. An insured policyholder also violates the law if he knowingly submits or allows a claim with a waived or reduced deductible.
In July, the city of Frisco issued 522 permits for residential roofs, according to the city’s building inspection report.
Jeff Riss, president of Peak Roofing and Construction, said the bill will have a positive impact on his business in Frisco. Riss said he hopes what he calls “enforcement law” will shake out storm chasers who push homeowners.
“There’s so much shadiness in our business,” said Riss. “We hope this bill cuts some of that out.”
However, Frisco-resident Michael Yamada said the law could result in repairs not being made due to a lack of affordability.
“I’m scared as a homeowner,” said Yamada. “If I can’t pay for it, what if I don’t do it and suffer more damage?”
Yamada said he feared his insurer would not cover future replacements due to negligence.
Before HB 2102
In some cases, the lack of enforcement of fully paid deductibles has resulted in homeowners becoming involved in insurance fraud, Badger said.
In other cases, homeowners were given substandard roof replacement parts – whether half done or done with cheap materials – and some contractors disappeared after waiving deductibles, Badger said.
When homeowners got a botched roof replacement from a disreputable builder, it led to further repairs over time, Riss said. He said he’d replaced three roofs in several homes in Frisco, Little Elm and McKinney in three years because hail damage was caused by cheap work.
Additionally, Badger said that roofers who tried to comply with the law sometimes lost business to “seedy” contractors who promised free roofs.
Yamada said that when he had his roof replaced, he and the roofer split the deductible, which enabled Yamada to obtain the necessary replacement.
“It was a fantastic experience,” said Yamada. “I feel like I’ve done everything that had to be done.”
Adaptation to the bill
North Texas homeowners will have to adjust to the new norm, Riss said – especially if they can’t afford their current deductibles.
If Yamada had to pay the full deductible for a roof replacement, he would likely have to pay the bill with a credit card or take out a loan.
“It makes it even more difficult, especially for those who don’t have the resources to do any of these [options],” he said.
Ralph Harris, President of Town and Country Roofing, suggests homeowners contact their insurers and arrange a cheaper deductible. Going from 2% to 1% or asking for a $ 1,000 or $ 2,000 deductible can make a big difference, he said.
“If we have storms, it will be people [better] able to afford a deductible of $ 1,000 or $ 2,000, ”said Harris.
Badger said Frisco homeowners should speak to their insurer about a lower fixed-dollar deductible, since “fairly expensive” Frisco homes can have a deductible of several thousand dollars.
A provision of the law provides that an insurer can withhold payment of a claim for retained replacement costs until it receives “reasonable evidence” of the payment of the excess by the policyholder. This can include canceled checks, money order slips, or credit card statements.
For those less able to afford their deductible, Badger says a copy of an executed installment plan contract or funding agreement will work for the payment over time too.
“We took this issue into account when drafting the legislation,” said Badger.
Both roofer presidents said they are running education campaigns about the new law and what homeowners can do to get a fair deductible.
Karen Vermaire Fox, executive director of the North Texas Roofing Contractors Association, said homeowners need to know what they are responsible for.
“Homeowners need to be a little more special,” Vermaire told Fox. “Hopefully the houses in Frisco are better protected than before.”
Until all the disreputable roofers are out of business, Harris said homeowners must be trained as best they can from Sept. 1.
“It’s about educating the homeowner,” said Harris. “There will always be those bad apples out there.”