Florida roofing scams continue to affect homeowners insurance rates

TAMPA, Fla. — The cost of living here in paradise has risen dramatically since the pandemic began. Hundreds of thousands of people are moving to the Tampa Bay area and home prices are rising faster than in California and New York, according to the Case-Shiller Home Price Index.

But owning a home comes with another cost that has gotten worse over the years here in Florida: insurance.

Seven Florida property insurance companies are now in liquidation and many residents are seeing bills nearly triple what they were two years ago.

Most residents with homes under $650,000 have what is called state-subsidized “last resort” Citizen’s Property Insurance.

Hudson resident Elizabeth Roache’s annual premium with Citizens was $769 in 2019. It was up to $1,500 last year and is $1,932 this year.

That’s almost three times more than two years ago,” exclaimed Roache. “And it really makes you wonder, what is going on here?”

According insurance.com The average cost of home insurance in Florida for a $300,000 home is $3,600, which is about $1,300 more than the national average.

We turned to veteran insurance agent Kathy Walsh, owner of Coast to Coast Insurance in Tampa, for answers.

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The reason is due to all the fraud we have seen in Florida. There is an organized background of roofers, public adjusters, attorneys, and vendors who roam the neighborhoods. About the roof of your house, even though it’s at the end of its useful life, even though it’s a 24-year-old roof and it’s only good for 20 years, ‘your insurance company can put a new roof on it’” , said. explained.

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WFTS

That is exactly what is happening in one Seminole Heights neighborhood.

I turned around, I looked down between our houses, and there was a ladder up against my roof and it was a guy about to get on the roof, and I was like, ‘Hey, what are you doing!'” exclaimed homeowner Brian . Curry.

He and his neighbor Rebecca Williams say roofing companies are constantly knocking on their neighborhood doors with homes built in the 1920s.

They had knocked on my door. ‘Oh, we can tell it needs a new roof.’ I said ‘Really? How can you know that, you haven’t even been to it?’” Williams said. “‘Well, you know, we’re hanging around the neighborhood.’ And I was like, ‘Sure you can get on my roof.’ … It just turned into hard-court pressure like, ‘Do you want to do it? Do you want to do it?’ “

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Even after she said no, Williams received a voicemail from the man saying, “Just wanted to see if you were ready to get your new roof up and running, please call me ASAP.”

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While her roof is nearing the end of its useful life, Williams said she’s too scared to replace it for fear her home insurance will go up.

Walsh said these companies have the homeowner sign an Assignment of Benefits, or AOB, which allows the roofer to deal directly with the insurance company, often claiming storm damage and ending up in court.

Florida accounts for 10% of all insurance claims across the country,” Walsh said, “but we are 76% of the claims across the country.”

According Guy Carpenter Industry Reportsproperty insurers had $1.22 billion in technical losses from January to September 2021; that’s money lost in addition to paying claims.

Starting the last week of March, seven agencies in Florida are in liquidation:

  • American Capital Guarantee Corporation
  • Avatar Property & Casualty Insurance Company
  • Florida Specialty Insurance Company
  • Gulfstream Property and Casualty Insurance Company
  • Sawgrass Mutual Insurance Company
  • St. Johns Insurance Company
  • sunshine state insurance company

Lexington Insurance also joined the list of companies withdrawing from the Florida market and those still remaining, such as lighthouse property and the Florida Farm Bureau saw their financial ratings drop due to losses.

Walsh said it’s crucial Florida passes cash value legislation roof replacement.

Mortgage lenders and mortgage requirements have required, especially if they are government-subsidized loans, that they have to be 100% replacement cost on the roof,” he said. “You need to change to actual cash value, where it’s five-year, 10-year, 15-year, 20-year depreciation of the ceiling, it needs to be a scale of depreciation.”

In February, Tampa Bay Senator Jeffery Brandes tweeted about the rapidly growing problem.

HB 7065 which would have limited some annual fee increases under Citizens Property Insurance and promoted more cash-value roof replacements died in the state House of Representatives as the last session ended in March.

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The burden is heavy on citizens, especially if major storms hit Florida this hurricane season. The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation held a hearing Thursday, March 31, to hear a Citizens proposal for a rate increase of nearly 11%, the highest increase allowed by law. They have not yet announced their decision.

We reached out to Governor Ron DeSantis’ office to ask what they are doing now.

His deputy press secretary, Bryan Griffin, responded by saying, “The Governor is monitoring the stability of the insurance market in real time and working closely with Commissioner Altmaier (Office of Insurance Regulation) to find solutions to rising insurance costs. the insurance”.

In July 2021, DeSantis signed SB 76, forbidding contractors request a consumer to repair their roof through an insurance claim and offer roof inspections. It could take about two years to see its effects.

Governor DeSantis called a special session in April to redraw the congressional district, not for homeowners insurance.

Under Florida law, the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives may also issue a joint proclamation to convene the Legislature. Another option is that 20% of legislators request a session and three-fifths of both chambers approve it and set the date.

On Tuesday, Brandes told ABC Action News that he would send a letter to House and Senate leaders asking for a special session.

Tips to save on home insurance:

  • Renew your home
  • Improve your credit score. If you need help, you can sign up for ‘Experian Boost’ to add mobile and streaming payments to help improve your credit score
  • Home and auto insurance package
  • Increase your deductible

Click here for more Bank Rate tips.

Full statement from the office of Governor Ron DeSantis:

“Governor DeSantis remains committed to the goal of stabilizing insurance rates and continuing to work for the consumer. The Governor is monitoring the stability of the insurance market in real time and working closely with Commissioner Altmaier to find solutions to rising rates.” insurance costs.

In 2019, 8.6% of all property insurance claims in the US were filed in Florida, yet 76.45% of all property insurance litigation in the US occurred in Florida.

Recognizing this, during the 2021 legislative session, the Legislature passed and Governor DeSantis signed Senate SB 76 which significantly reformed the litigation environment in Florida by changing the way attorneys’ fees are awarded in disputed insurance cases. At the time, it was said that it would potentially take two years to feel the impact of that bill, because pending litigation does not fall under the amended law nor do insurance claims for a loss that preceded the bill’s effective date. Many of the insurance companies in Florida are still saddled with litigation stemming from the recent hurricanes, especially Hurricane Irma. But as a result of the reforms we have implemented so far, we are seeing some new companies entering the market.

The Governor has consistently pushed the legislature to enact substantial insurance reform. In addition to pushing attorney fee reform in SB 76, in 2019, Governor DeSantis pushed through Assignment of Benefits (AOB) claims reform and signed HB 7065 into law. He has also appointed more than 100 judges and 5 Supreme Court justices who are having a significant impact in reducing frivolous litigation.

Finally, it should be noted that Biden-driven inflation is hurting consumers everywhere and causing the prices of consumer goods like home building materials to skyrocket. If it costs more to repair or replace a home, insurance prices will go up. Governor will continue to work to protect Floridians from poor decisions being made in Washington DC

We continue to work with the Office of Insurance Regulation to monitor market stability.”

Auto insurance is another big concern for residents browsing the price of paradise.

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Experian said that inflation rates are affecting auto insurance across the country. In fact, the worst they’ve seen in 40 years.

It’s been a long time since we’ve seen these kinds of cost increases, and it’s affecting everything: car parts, the cost of new cars, replacement cars, insurance companies are going to have to bear those costs, and pass them on to you,” explained Rod Griffin with Experian.

Experian created a new online tool to help people compare insurance rates with 40 of the main suppliers in the country. They say it’s helping people save around $900 a year.

Tips to save on auto insurance:

  • Ask your insurance about student discounts for good grades
  • If you have a smartphone, some insurance companies offer tracking for good driving discounts.
  • Improve your credit score