TAMPA, Florida (WFLA) – Be sure to check your mailbox. Your insurance company may have a costly surprise for you.
Some Tampa Bay homeowners receive letters from their insurance companies asking them to replace aging roofs or lose their coverage.
“I can’t afford to replace my roof,” said Wilma Bryant, who now has until March 7th to get a new roof. “And there is nothing wrong with that.”
She’s not alone, her roof is 20 years old which caused her insurance company to request a new roof, despite Bryant saying she never made a claim and has no issues with her roof.
Other homeowners say their roofs are 12 to 15 years old and still have a lot of life, but their insurance companies still want the roof to be replaced.
As more and more homeowners receive these roof letters from their insurance companies, panic arises as many cannot afford to put a new roof right away, especially in the middle of a pandemic.
“At least you should come out and see it before you pass judgment,” said Seminole’s John Ellis. “That just seems so unfair, just to go by age.”
Shocking as this is to some homeowners, Better Call Behnken noted that this is only the beginning of what may be coming.
The proposed legislation, backed by at least two Tampa Bay state senators, would allow insurance companies to only offer homeowner policies that adjust roof claims to actual cash value if the roof is more than 10 years old.
This would be a staple for Florida homeowners who are already paying high insurance premiums and believing that coverage is there to help if their roof is damaged to the point where it needs to be replaced.
Bradenton Republican Senator Jim Boyd this week proposed the bill that would clarify roof cover and help restore order to a failing Florida insurance industry.
“This is a concerted effort between business groups, insurance groups and the like to bring these costs down,” Boyd said.
Critics of the bill, including some other senators and some consumer advocates, argue that it could force homeowners to pay more for less, and some homeowners could be left without a roof when the next big storm hits.
“Insurance companies are already urging people to get a new roof or they are throwing it away,” said Senator Annette Taddeo, Democrat of Miami. “Now they don’t care because they don’t have to provide that much coverage. Ultimately, it’s about making money for the insurance companies. “
According to Locke Burt, CEO of Ormond Beach-based Security First Insurance, his company is currently revising its underwriting guidelines and trying to minimize the company’s risk.
He stated that insurance companies respond to runaway umbrella litigation, some of which are fraudulent. Aggressive roofers and lawyers have sought out homeowners with aging roofs, Burt said, and looked to insurance companies who had to replace the roof. Those costs, coupled with legal fees, have hurt the industry, he said.
“In 2020, Florida homeowner insurance companies with a B lost more than $ 1 billion,” Burt said.
Insurance companies and legislators are proposing a change in coverage. Currently, insurers offer full replacement cost coverage as standard. Under the proposed law, this could change for homes more than 10 years old.
The legislation allows property insurers to offer policies that adjust umbrella claims to the actual cash value if the umbrella is older than 10 years.
This is what it looks like. For example, a homeowner with a 10 year old roof could now get enough money to replace the roof if a roof is so badly damaged that it needs to be replaced. With this change, the homeowner would receive what is known as “actual cost recovery”. That is, they would get a percentage of what the roof is worth today, taking the depreciation into account.
In some cases, homeowners didn’t get close enough to replace their roofs.