By Pat Raia
Homeowners in Florida could see change in the way their insurers cover roof replacement under a proposed measure winding its way through the State's Senate.
Introduced by Sen. Jim Boyd (R-Bradenton), SB 78 would allow insurers to pay homeowners policy holders the value of a home's roof if the roof is 10 years old or older and was damaged during a hurricane. Currently insurance companies pay the entire replacement cost of the roof.
In addition, the measure would reduce the time homeowners have to file roof -damage claims from three years to two, and would require that policy holders give insurers 60-days notice before filing lawsuits.
Finally, SB 76 would reduce attorney fees and claim-related litigation by establishing a sliding scale for paying claims on roofs that are 10 years old or older, and seeks to rein in the cost of lawsuits by making contractors who accept the assignment of benefits responsible for legal fees in disputes with insurance companies.
Clams still being submitted from damage connected to Hurricanes Michael in 2018 and Irma in 2017; the escalating cost of lawsuits stemming from some contractors accepting assignments of benefits are both blamed for the spike in the cost of homeowners insurance across the state, said Kellie Hawkins, a team leader in the persona lines department of the Killingsworth Agency, Inc.
“We are seeing rates increase more over the lawsuits where the attorneys are collecting fee multipliers,” Hawkins said. “Combined with the cost of claims for not only roofs but water damage homeowners are feeling the rate increases - without reform homeowners insurance rates in Florida are expected to increase 10-fold over the next 10 years.