The landscape of homeowners’ insurance in Florida is undergoing a significant shift. Recent changes to the Florida insurance laws have left many homeowners feeling uncertain and potentially at risk. Understanding these changes is crucial for all homeowners to ensure they are adequately protected and not caught off guard.
Changes to the Florida Insurance Laws
The first step towards understanding the potential impact on homeowners is to delve into what these changes entail. The new legislation, Senate Bill 76, was signed into law by Governor Ron DeSantis in June 2021, with the aim of reducing property insurance rates and curbing litigation costs that insurers say have been driving up premiums.
One key change involves roof damage claims. Under the new law, insurers can now offer reduced payouts for roof damage based on the age of the roof at the time of damage or loss. This means that if your roof is older than ten years for asphalt shingles or metal roofs, or older than 25 years for tile, slate, clay, or concrete roofs, you may only receive a depreciated (actual cash) value rather than full replacement cost.
Another significant change relates to litigation rules. The new law reduces the time homeowners have to file a claim from three years to two years following a loss. It also introduces stricter regulations around attorney fees in insurance litigation cases.
How Homeowners May Lose Out
These recent changes in Florida insurance laws could potentially leave homeowners underinsured and facing out-of-pocket costs in case of damage or loss.
Reduced Payouts for Roof Damage
Roofs are one of the most expensive parts of a home to replace. Under previous legislation, homeowners could expect their policy to cover full replacement costs regardless of how old their roof was at the time of damage. However, with this new law allowing insurers to offer reduced payouts based on the age of the roof, homeowners with older roofs could find themselves significantly out of pocket if they need to replace their roof due to damage.
Shortened Timeframe for Claims
The reduction in the timeframe for filing a claim from three years to two years may also disadvantage homeowners. This change could potentially leave homeowners who are not immediately aware of damage (for example, hidden water damage from a storm) unable to claim for this damage once it is discovered.
Stricter Litigation Rules
The new legislation also introduces stricter litigation rules, which could potentially deter homeowners from pursuing claims disputes. This change could lead to insurers denying more claims, knowing that fewer people will have the resources or energy to dispute.
What Homeowners Can Do
Despite these changes in Florida insurance laws, there are steps homeowners can take to protect themselves.
Review Your Policy
Firstly, it’s crucial for homeowners to review their insurance policies and understand what is covered and what isn’t. If your roof is older, you may want to consider investing in a new one or exploring additional coverage options.
File Claims Promptly
With the shortened timeframe for filing claims, it’s more important than ever for homeowners to file claims promptly after any damage occurs. Regular home inspections can also help identify potential issues before they become major problems.
Seek Professional Advice
Lastly, if you’re unsure about any aspect of your insurance policy or how these changes might impact you, seek advice from an insurance professional. They can help you navigate these changes and ensure that you have adequate coverage.
While the recent changes in Florida insurance laws aim at reducing property insurance rates and curbing litigation costs, they may potentially disadvantage some homeowners. It’s crucial for all Florida homeowners to understand these changes and take proactive steps towards ensuring they are adequately protected.