Roofing

A roofer works on laying shingles on a home recently.

Largely due to hurricanes and strong storms, Florida is one of the few states with extensive roofing regulations.

Now, the laws have changed for how you can get your roof repaired or replaced. A new Florida law took effect July 1, changing how roofers and insurance companies handle claims and how homeowners can make claims. Cutting down on roofing claim fraud is the focal point.

Amanda Smith, an R/J Group Inc. marketing director, outlined the main changes homeowners and business owners need to know.

•Property insurance claims, supplemental claims and reopened claims must be filed within two years.

•Property insurers must provide full-replacement coverage for roofs under 10 years old.

•For roofs older than 10 years, property insurers can now use a “roof surface reimbursement schedule” to sell policies, essentially offering reduced coverage based on roof age and type and adjust claims to actual cash value (This does not apply for a total loss caused by a “covered peril”).

•Property insurers can offer homeowners the option of purchasing a state value limit for roof coverage.

•Property owners must give 60-day detailed notice to the insurance company before filing a lawsuit.

•Attorneys who file lawsuits on the behalf of contractors are now limited in how fees are awarded in insurance litigation.

•Contractors and public adjusters can no longer offer incentives to property owners, nor can they accept any incentives for referrals.

•Roofers are no longer allowed to solicit door-to-door, which for some roofing companies is critical to their marketing plan.

“Supporters maintain the purpose of the new law is to stop the escalating insurance rates homeowners face due to the increased number of lawsuits that have led to increased insurance premiums and the rising construction costs, while opponents argue the changes don’t guarantee rate drops and will hurt homeowners in the long run,” Ms. Smith stated in an email.

Aside from no soliciting and not offering incentives, Central Florida roofers and contractors are minimally affected. For R/J Group, the new law doesn’t change anything for them as the company does not believe in those practices anyway.

“We handle all of our business with the utmost integrity; it’s how we’ve done business for 36 years and how we’ll continue to do business,” said Ian Johnson, R/J Group president. “When you suspect you have roof damage, you need to call a licensed roofing company … someone you trust. We know the laws and will ensure your roof is repaired or replaced to the highest standards. We back our products 100%.”

Kyle Johnson, R/J Group sales director and service manager, added, “Shortly after they passed that law, the roofing industry is challenging it to some degree. They are revisiting the law and they are going to have to make some very large amendments. It’s actually a law on how roofers can engage customers with regards to their insurance. It’s strictly a law to slow down fraud claims in the roofing industry.”

He stated the law touches on some free speech concerns, such as roofers coaching customers on what is covered by insurance. Roofers are knowledgeable about what to look for to get roof issues covered by insurance with some developing “a whole lot of sales tactics around doing it.”

Mr. Johnson emphasized, however, that R/J Group focuses entirely on being a quality roofing contractor and word of mouth to generate their business.

One type of shingles is known as lifetime shingles, but Mr. Johnson stated some homeowner’s insurance companies won’t write a policy for any roof past 10 years old.

“We’ve seen a lot of that,” he said. “That is very concerning considering they’re deciding sight unseen that your roof is no longer good despite the fact, according to the manufacturer, you still have a lot of life expectancy. You are required to have homeowner’s insurance. The older roofs get, it gets extremely hard to get the insurance writer to carry those policies.”

He recommended annual roof inspections where any potential problems could be identified and fixed, so if a storm does significant damage, paperwork will show the roof was fine before the storm. Some warranties require roof audits and maintained annually anyway. “There’s a significant amount of cost savings by having it done proactively instead of reactively,” he said.

Regardless of which roofing company you use, at the very least having an annual inspection with necessary repairs to lessen the chance of catastrophic storm damage is a good idea, while also staying abreast of the new roofing laws.

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