TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Make sure to check your mailbox, your insurance company may have a costly surprise for you.
Some Tampa Bay homeowners are receiving letters from their insurance companies requiring 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 7 to get a new roof. “And there’s nothing wrong with it.”
She isn’t alone, her roof is 20-years-old, which triggered her particular insurance company to require a new roof, even though Bryant says she never filed a claim and has no problems with her roof.
Other homeowners say their roofs are 12 to 15 years old and have plenty of life left, but their insurance companies still want the roof replaced.
As more homeowners receive these roof letters from their insurance companies, a panic is setting in, as many can’t afford to put on a new roof immediately, especially in the middle of a pandemic.
“At least they should come out and take a look at it before they make a judgment call,” said John Ellis of Seminole. “That just seems so unfair just to go by the age.”
As shocking as this is to some homeowners, Better Call Behnken found this is the just the beginning of what could come.
The proposed legislation, supported by at least two Tampa Bay State Senators, would allow insurance companies to only offer homeowner’s policies that adjust roof claims to actual cash value if the roof is older than 10-years-old.
This would be a game changer for Florida homeowners who already pay hefty insurance premiums and believe the coverage will be there to help if their roof is damaged to the point it needs to be replaced.
Republican State Senator Jim Boyd, from Bradenton, proposed the bill this week saying it would clarify coverage for roofs and help turn around a failing insurance industry in Florida.
“This is actually a concerted effort among business groups, insurance groups and the like to try to drive those costs down,” Boyd said.
Critics of the bill, including some other state Senators and some consumer advocates argue this could force homeowners to pay more for less and could leave some homeowners without roofs over their heads when the next major storm hits.
“Insurance companies are already telling people to get a new roof or they’re dumping them,” said Sen. Annette Taddeo, Miami Democrat. “Now, they won’t even care because they won’t have to offer as much coverage. At the end of the day, this is about making money for the insurance companies.”
Locke Burt, CEO of Security First Insurance company, based in Ormond Beach, says his company is currently revising underwriting guidelines and trying to minimize the company’s risk.
He explained that insurance companies are reacting to out of control roof claim litigation, some of which he said has been fraudulent. Aggressive roofers and lawyers have sought out homeowners with aging roofs, Burt said, and went after insurance companies who had to replace the roof. That cost, coupled with attorneys fees, has hurt the industry, he said.
“In 2020, homeowner’s insurance companies in Florida have lost more than a billion dollars, with a B,” Burt said.
Here’s how insurance companies and legislators are proposing changing coverage. Currently, insurers offer standard full replacement cost coverage. Under the proposed legislation, that could change for homes older than 10 years.
The legislation allows property insurers to offer policies that adjust roof claims to actual cash value if the roof is older than 10-years-old.
Here’s what that looks like. For example, now, a homeowner with a 10-year-old roof could get enough money to replace the roof, if a roof is damaged to the point it needs to be replaced. Under this change, the homeowner would receive what’s called “actual cost coverage.” That means they would get a percentage of what the roof is worth today, accounting for depreciated value.
In some cases, homeowners wouldn’t get near enough to replace their roofs.