Every day throughout the state of Florida, homeowners are being forced by insurance companies — with the complicit authorization by the state of Florida — to replace a perfectly good roof on their home, which is still under warranty, to mitigate their exposure in the event of a major hurricane.
It wastes millions of dollars annually, costing homeowners millions in increased premiums, and delaying — if not killing — real estate deals on older homes. It’s time for the state of Florida to step in and set specific guidelines on the coverage of older roofs by insurance companies.
Over the last ten years, especially since Hurricane Irma, homeowners’ insurance companies have been raising rates or denying coverage to homeowners whose roof is older than 15 years. It seems roofs older than 19 years are being denied coverage.
Here’s the issue — new technology in the roofing industry over the last couple of decades has dramatically improved the quality and durability of roofing shingles. In fact, most architectural shingles now come with a limited lifetime warranty and extended full warranties are being sold by some manufacturers for as long as 50 years.
Most architectural roofing installed in the state of Florida is good for at least 30 years, minimally, and if the attic is vented properly, much longer.
The insurance industry argues that homeowners’ insurance companies are being saddled after hurricanes with replacing older roofs that should not be covered after a certain age. Their argument is ludicrous if you understand insurance deductibles in the state of Florida.
Most homeowners in the state have two deductibles in their insurance policy. The normal deductible for fire, hail, catastrophic failures and non-hurricane wind storms is typically $1,000 per incidence. If your house burns to the ground because of a lightning strike, you will pay $1,000.
The typical Florida homeowners’ insurance deductible for hurricane damage is two percent of the home’s value, which means a home that is valued at $250,000 would have a whopping $5,000 deductible. It is not fair that a roof being damaged in a fire is subjected to a $1,000 deductible while the same roof would have a $5,000 deductible if destroyed by a hurricane. When the hurricane deductible was created for the benefit of homeowners’ insurance companies, it was for mitigation of costs such as these.
It is unfair for the state of Florida to allow insurance companies to raise insurance rates or deny coverage on a roof in Florida simply because of age. It is understandable if the roof is damaged or not installed properly, but most roofs have a minimal of 10 years of good life remaining, if not more. The age of the roof should not be the only criteria, and if a roof is warranted for 30-plus years, the insurance companies should be forced to cover these roofs at no extra premium — that is why they implemented huge hurricane deductibles.
For too long, the state of Florida has ceded positions and policies to the big insurance companies. The issue of replacing good roofs in the state simply because an insurance company says it is a certain age holds no merit. If this is not stopped, insurance companies could develop exclusions for plumbing, electrical, windows, doors and siding. What good is insurance if it doesn’t pay and it treats you unfairly?
This is not a one-off issue; rather, it is a costly matter. Plus, the roof replacement guidelines by insurance companies are in direct conflict with the shingle companies who are offering their warranties. If a shingle company is willing to warrant their shingles for 30 years, then an insurance company has no business denying coverage or increasing rates.
Florida homeowners are being duped and taken advantage of by profit-hungry insurance companies. It is time for state legislators to rein in these predatory insurance tactics. Requiring the replacement of a perfectly good roof merely because of age makes no sense — it needs to be stopped.
Don Magruder is the CEO of Ro-Mac Lumber & Supply Inc. He is also the host of the Around the House radio show heard every Monday at noon on My790AM WLBE in Leesburg.