The majority of hurricane damage cases at our firm concern repair versus replacement of tile roofs. In many cases insurance carriers attempt to force homeowners to use mismatching roof tiles in an effort to avoid paying for a complete roof replacement and instead attempt to pay for a minor repair. Fortunately for Floridians the law is on the side of the policyholder and policyholders do not need to settle for mismatching repairs.
As background, it helps to understand a little about roof tiles. All roof tiles are not made alike. In fact, every roof tile has a unique shape and locking mechanism. The best way to think of roof tiles is like children’s blocks, where only the same brand and same size will fit together.
Over time, manufactures modify the design of roof tiles and stop making old models. For older homes, this means that tiles that are the same shape and size are not available for a repair. Thus, there is no way to fix a roof and the only option is replacement. In fact, making repairs with tiles that are not a proper mechanical fit is a safety issue and these improper repairs can quickly fail in a wind event. Due to this widespread problem, the Tile Roofing Institute published a list of obsolete roof tiles (click here for TRI letter). If your tile is on this list you may have been entitled to a complete roof replacement by your insurance carrier.
Thus the $64,000 question is why did my insurance carrier not pay for a complete roof replacement and only pay for a repair? The short answer is money. We believe that after Hurricane Irma insurance carriers underpaid roof claims in Florida by between $500 million and $1.5 billion. It is easy to see that insurance carriers have significant financial incentive to underpay your claim.
The good news is that the law in Florida is on your side. Florida Statute Section 626.9744 provides in pertinent part:
When a loss requires replacement of items and the replaced items do not match in quality, color, or size, the insurer shall make reasonable repairs or replacement of items in adjoining areas. In determining the extent of the repairs or replacement of items in adjoining areas, the insurer may consider the cost of repairing or replacing the undamaged portions of the property, the degree of uniformity that can be achieved without such cost, the remaining useful life of the undamaged portion, and other relevant factors.
This is often referred to as the Florida Matching Statute and it protects homeowners in Florida. Floridians do not need to settle for mismatching roof repairs. Not only can it be a construction hazard, it also diminishes the value of a home.Read More
One of the questions that I am asked the most is how long will it take to resolve my hurricane claim? Unfortunately, there is no easy answer to this question. A new claim typically takes 60 days from the date of submission. A supplemental claim typically takes 90-120 days from the date we are hired. Mediation and appraisal claims usually take 4-6 months and litigation claims average 18 months. Thus the process can be lengthy. Now I assume that you are totally lost, so let me explain.
The initial claim is just as it sounds. It is when you first notify your insurance carrier that you would like to make a hurricane claim. Typically a carrier will take 60 to 90 days in settling your claim (fingers crossed).
Historically claim supplements were designed for additional items that were not or could not have been noticed at the time of inspection. A good example of this is that you notice that you need to replace wood sheathing after you tear off your tile roof. There was no way to visually inspect the sheathing until the tiles were removed.
After a hurricane, supplemental claims mean something else. In most cases, a supplement is correcting mistakes that were made by an inexperienced insurance adjuster. For example, an inexperienced carrier adjuster paid to make a small repair to a tile roof, without looking to see if that repair could be made. At the Hurricane Law Group, we often file claim supplements in order to correct these mistakes and in an attempt to resolve claim disputes quickly and easily.
Mediation is an informal way to resolve a claims dispute with your insurance carrier. Mediation is administered by the State of Florida and paid for by your insurance company. In mediation, you get the opportunity to try to settle your dispute with the carrier by sitting across the table from them and explaining your differences.
Mediation is non-binding. Neither you nor your insurance company has to reach an agreement at mediation. However, if you do it is a binding agreement.
Appraisal is very different than mediation. It is a form of binding arbitration and is designed to resolve valuation disputes between you and your carrier. In short, the policyholder names an appraiser and the carrier names and appraiser. If they can agree on an amount of loss, then the claim is settled and the amount will be paid. This closes the claim.
If the appraisers can’t agree on an amount then a neutral third party named an “umpire” will listen to both appraisers and make a determination as to the loss. This amount will be binding.
It is important to note that not all insurance policies require an insurance carrier to go to appraisal. After Hurricane Wilma, many insurance companies found that policyholders (and their public adjusters) were using the appraisal to dramatically increase the amount of money that their claim was paid. In order to avoid this process and having to pay out claims, many carriers removed appraisal from their policy or at a minimum gave them the option to decide if they want to appraise a claim.
At the Hurricane Law Group, our goal is to try to resolve claims without litigation. Unfortunately, carriers do not always want to pay the full and fair value of a claim and policyholders have no option but to file suit. The litigation process can be can be time-consuming, but the good news is that in Florida for almost all of our clients, the insurance carrier will pay your legal fees if we are successful. This means that in most cases, the policyholder does not pay anything in legal fees.
I hope that this helps. Please feel free to email me firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 1-833-348-7742 should you have any questions or wish to discuss your claim.
Paul Berger, Managing AttorneyRead More