Property insurance companies in Florida have dropped hundreds of clients and roofing fraud is rampant, prompting state lawmakers to hold a special session Monday to address the crisis.
WPTV spoke with industry experts in roofing and insurance adjusting — along with a homeowner — to hear what they want to be fixed immediately.
Putting in years of work to enjoy retirement from her home in Wellington, Orlean Moretti Buckingham waited through a pandemic to travel the world.
“I waited two years to be able to do the things I wanted to do once I retired, and buying a roof wasn’t part of that,” Buckingham said.
Her retirement plans quickly changed as her insurance company dropped her, saying the roof on her home was too old and they wouldn’t even take her back once the new roof was installed.
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The cost was more than $30,000.
“I just didn’t expect the cancellation. I have never made a claim — ever — so it was a big surprise,” Buckingham said.
It’s no surprise to Mike Silvers with the Florida Roofing, Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors Association (FRSA.)
“The roofs need to be able to serve their life expectancy because that’s part of what the customer’s paying for,” Silvers said.
He said “free roof syndrome” needs to be stopped through this state Legislature special session.
Unlike Buckingham, thousands of homeowners in Florida are signing over insurance claim rights to contractors and attorneys who are working the system.
They’re replacing roofs for sometimes more than double the price, causing insurance companies to pick up the tab because insurers grow tired of mounting attorney fees.
“Twisting all of that around in our industry, in particular, giving roofers, kind of painting us with the same broad brush of being some kind of fraudsters,” Silvers.
Right now, the state building code says if your roof is more than 25% damaged, then it has to be fully replaced.
The FRSA wants to see that percentage requirement waived if your roof is six to nine years old.
Jeff Dobbins of Boca Raton said don’t let the insurance companies off the hook.
Dobbins has filed hundreds of homeowners insurance claims as a licensed public adjuster.
“The insurance companies being their own worst enemies is because they’re not paying a fair, reasonable amount for the claim,” Dobbins said.
He said roofing companies that not following the rules aren’t using a licensed public adjuster to properly submit a roof replacement claim.
That needs to be fixed at the state level, according to Dobbins.
“It just takes away from a potential client that we would put in for a real number for a roof — not $90,000 for a $30,000 roof,” Dobbins said. “It would also save the insurance companies a lot of money as well because they’re losing a lot of money.”
The special legislative session in Tallahassee lasts through May 27.
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