Plus, upcoming contractor fraud event
A group of roofing and other contractors is continuing their fight against property insurance consumer reforms needed to help stabilize the Florida market. There are new developments to report in the Restoration Association of Florida (RAF) lawsuits in state court seeking to overturn the reforms passed by the Florida Legislature in its May special session.
Citizens Property Insurance Corporation and several private insurance companies were granted status as interveners in both lawsuits over the past two weeks. RAF’s first lawsuit is over the new Assignment of Benefits (AOB) contract provisions in Senate Bill 2-D. The bill prohibits awards of attorney fees to contractors or other assignees of AOB contracts, allowing only first parties, such as homeowners, to recover attorney fees. Previous law, established under the legislature’s 2019 AOB Reform had allowed assignees to recover a portion or all of their attorney fees if they prevailed in court. RAF and Air Quality Assessors of Orlando allege that the change violates equal-protection and due-process rights and denies contractors access to courts. The judge also granted the state’s request to have the Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) removed from the case, as it has no involvement in attorney fees.
RAF’s second lawsuit, joined by Florida Premier Roofing of Orlando, targets the new relaxed roof replacement provisions under Senate Bill 4-D. The bill changes the previous law which required all roofs be replaced if 25% or more of its surface was damaged. The new law allows repairs on roofs with more than 25% damage if they were built since 2007 or otherwise comply with the 2007 Florida Building Code. The 114-page complaint against DBPR, the Construction Industry Licensing Board, and the Florida Building Commission alleges the new law violates the “single-subject rule” and that it violates due-process rights because it conflicts with the state’s matching material law that requires roofing materials to match in quality, color and size when repairs are made. The lawsuits in state court followed a lawsuit RAF filed in federal court last summer in opposition to the legislature’s 2021 Reform under SB 76.
If you want to know about the lucrative business practices these roofers and restoration firms – and their attorneys – are fighting to keep, you can read a recent opinion piece in Florida Today titled, Who pays for insurance-based roofing hustle? Everyone in Florida. Its author, veteran independent insurance agent Brian Hodgers of Melbourne, chronicles the unfortunate changes he’s seen in his 20-plus years in the business and how it’s hurting Florida homeowners.
Speaking of unscrupulous contractors, please mark your calendars for an event you shouldn’t miss. Florida’s Insurance Consumer Advocate Tasha Carter will be holding a Contractor Fraud and Abuse Prevention Twitter Chat this Thursday, August 25 from 2 to 3 p.m. It will be hosted in conjunction with the American Property Casualty Insurance Assocation on its Twitter page (https://twitter.com/teamapcia). Tasha will specifically be giving useful tips and cautions on how to better protect yourself and your clients before a storm approaches and in the recovery period afterward this hurricane season.
LMA Newsletter of 8-22-22