DAVIE, Fla. – Tiffany Forman spent more than a year bringing her “rustic-meets-shabby-chic” home the way she likes it.
She announced to the Leave it to Layron team that she bought her prefabricated house in 2018 and immediately started updating it with new appliances, quartz countertops, and a new backsplash for the kitchen. She laid new floors and new lighting and overhauled the guest bathroom.
The work didn’t stop inside. They put in a new fence and lawn, and installed new air conditioning.
“I had a [inspection] done and [the roofer] said I had at least 12 years on my roof and I needed to get a patch, “said Forman.
From the outside, you can see the room – which is maybe 6 square feet and covered in new clapboard – where the roof repair was done in March.
Forman said her new homeowner’s insurance policy went into effect weeks later, in April.
“One day there was a knock on a man on my door,” said Forman. The man was from her insurance company. She said the man wanted to go around the house and take some pictures.
“I said, ‘That’s fine,” said Forman.
A few days later, Forman said she had received a letter in the mail from her insurance company informing her that her coverage had been canceled effective June 1.
The Safe Harbor Insurance letter read in part:
“Structures and premises must be in good physical condition with no repairs required. The roof is at the end of its useful life with a large, patched area that is uneven with lifting shingles, the exterior of the house is moldy and unfamiliar pets.”
Forman said she owns her own washing machine and went to work cleaning her vinyl siding. She also said that she didn’t think her 7-pound Dachshund was going to be a problem because the breed isn’t viewed as aggressive.
Forman said she was trying to get her policy back on track.
“To the insurer, I said, ‘Well, sir, who went around my house and saw the stain on my roof that replaces a roofer who goes up there and gives you a letter telling you I haven’t done anything wrong have my roof? [the underwriter] said, “Yes,” said Forman. “How is that possible?”
“Unfortunately, prefabricated houses have more problems in severe storms and insurers know it,” said Marc Ben-Ezra, executive attorney with Florida Professional Law Group. “They might look and say, ‘Well, if there is any sign that your roof has been fixed, maybe there is a weakness in your roof, it’s just not a risk we want.'”
Florida law allows insurance companies to cancel policies that have been in place for 90 days or less for reasons other than non-payment. This cancellation must be made in writing with a notice period of 20 days.
The Forman Policy, which went into effect in April, states that if it has “been in effect for 90 days or less” we can terminate the policy for any reason.
“Both the law and the language of this policy, which has been repealed, say you don’t have to reinstate it,” said Marc Ben-Exra.
“I think it’s really unfair what insurance companies are doing to people,” said Forman.
It took weeks, but Forman was able to get a policy with Citizens Property Insurance Corp., the state insurer.
However, her premium has almost doubled, rising from $ 1,352 to $ 2,255, despite never making a claim, and she has her payments upfront because her insurance is paid through her mortgage. Forman should receive a refund for these prepaid insurance premiums, Ben-Ezra said.
Ben-Ezra also said homeowners like Forman should reach out and stand up for their state lawmakers, as should insurance companies, to help recast those laws.
“You need to hear from individual citizens and voters about issues that are important to them and this is a very real experience that is taking place,” said Ben-Ezra.
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