Bringing Balance To South Florida Homeowners Insurance
Florida Legislatures Try To Find A Solution To End Years Of Deadlock In Stemming Insurance Abuses
Rochelle K. of Weston, Florida says, “I won’t hire a public adjuster or contractor based solely on an ad I see online or in my local newspaper. I need honesty and someone working on my behalf. I am not confident of who is on my side when it comes to insurance claims and my needed repairs.” These sentiments are being heard from homeowners in Davie, Pembroke Pines, Miramar, and all across Broward County. They continue to ask about their rights.
Broward Insurance and homeowners across the county have complained they don’t know who has their best interests in mind, and the State of Florida legislature has taken notice.
On January 25th, 2016, State Legislatures took one step closer to passing bills that they hope will be enough of a compromise that both the insurance companies, trial lawyers and public adjusters can agree upon.
The Florida House Subcommittee on Insurance and Banking passed HB 671 and HB 1097 and sent them on toward possible adoption into law.
The battle lines have been drawn as insurance companies have been trying to reduce costs on non-weather related water damage, to be notified of pending claims more quickly, and to prevent contractors from offering referral fees in exchange for work that would be funded by the stated claims.
2016 marks the fourth year in a row that State lawmakers have pursued a legal avenue to restrict the assignment of benefits in claims involving property damage. Damage repair companies often require clients to sign these assignments before starting the job. This allows these companies to act on behalf of the customer in submitting claims. Insurers argue that these claims often become inflated as contractors try to report more damage and repair then are needed.
A current statement released from Citizens Insurance, Florida’s state-run insurer, South Floridians are a major factor through their use of attorneys and public adjuster use in helping them receive their claims. According to the insurer, 98% of all litigated claims come from Broward, Palm Beach, and Miami-Dade counties. They also stated that these disputed claims are three times higher than those without representation.
In 2014, Citizens claimed that 65% of all the claims they received were for water damage unrelated to weather.
HB 1097 looks to stem the tide of claims such as these. Under the bill, parties seeking to submit claims must notify the insurer within three days, unless it is an emergency, in hopes to prevent further damage.
Under these provisions, a consumer would have the right to cancel an assignment of benefits within three days and must have been provided a statement of these rights before the assignment being completed.
Jack K. of Miramar stated, “I had no idea I had any rights when it came to accepting the insurance company’s contractor to fix my roof when it sprung a leak.” These changes in legislation should better inform the policyholder.
Also, if a contractor accepts the assignment, they will be automatically held to the same requirements as the policyholder, such as providing proof of loss and answering inquiries under oath, if necessary.
Part 2 of this blog post coming soon…