When a hurricane lands, it's national news because of the devastation caused. Billions of dollars in injuries and thousands of people become homeless and without jobs. Most people in the country have seen the pictures, if not just for the shock value. Like Floridians, most of us have lived this devastation in some form or another. For policyholders, we know that the storm is just the beginning of the ordeal.
As responsible property owners, insurance was purchased and premium payments were made for many years as loyal customers. But when it was time for insurance companies to respect the purchased insurance, only a few insurance adjusters followed the insurance terms. Homes were destroyed and no one seemed to care. Jobs that supported society for several years were destroyed, and no one seemed to care. It was life now sitting in piles along roads, and insurance companies that were meant to protect their policyholders only reduced the coverage value.
From reading two bills currently pending in the Florida Legislature, 1
First, the scheme for the replacement of the roof area allows an insurance company to provide limited coverage for home policyholders. This scheme provides considerably less coverage for roof damage that is more than ten years old, which would require policyholders to pay thousands more, because they do not have, to fix their roofs and make their homes lively. Tile and metal roofs have a lifespan of 50 years and single roofs have a lifespan of 20 years. According to this bill, policyholders are punished for being financial and responsible. Exterminating the replacement value provision in the policy would make them almost useless to homeowners when a new roof is needed, which in turn exponentially aggravates other internal damages.
Second, these bills reduce from 3 years to 2 years time for a homeowner or business owner to file a hurricane or windstorm notice of claim, and it creates a 2 year time limit for all property insurance claims – the original damage, a supplementary requirement and a reopened requirement. Such a provision illustrates a deep misunderstanding in logistics for recovering from a hurricane. Rough construction companies are declining in affected areas. With no other choice, policyholders hire who they can to fix their damaged roofs, which still cannot happen in several months. Unfortunately, policyholders can not discover until years after the need for a supplementary claim. The current three-year limit is already short in most circumstances, but the reduction to two years is unconscious. Furthermore, such has a disproportionate impact on the elderly, seasonal residents and homeowners who have latent and escalating hidden roof or water damage.
Finally, these bills repeal over a century of Florida law and would harm homeowners' ability to retain advice. The policyholders are incredibly small for companies with several million dollars. When insurance companies behave in a predatory, greedy and hostile way, the only option is either (1) to accept the less than owed coverage and move on to avoid further financial dissatisfaction, or (2) fight in court. Current Florida laws exist to try to "level the playing field" between the economically favored and sophisticated insurance companies and the individual citizen.
SB 76 and HB 305 do not allow the current policyholder's legal fees to be allocated "against a commercial or home insurer" even when insurance benefits are held unreasonably. These bills at least tolerate the insurance behavior to deny or delay payment that is rightfully owed to its policyholders, and, in worse cases, encourage such dishonest behavior.
As mentioned above, the policyholders' only real way to enforce the conditions against the insurer is to go to court; However, these bills contain new legal fee restrictions that create burdensome and unnecessary obstacles for policyholders for the benefit of insurance companies. This time-consuming and expensive new process of (1) requires "determination of coverage;" (2) before a policyholder can send a written notice of intent; (3) sixty days before the application, will increase delays, denial and low payment of legitimate claims.
Who is represented by lawmakers in Florida, the people harmed by this bill or the insurance companies? 1 Senate proposal 76 and House proposal 305.