The Florida legislature is in special session to find ways to alleviate the state’s property insurance crisis. Homeowners here South Florida are on the front lines of that crisis, with many facing financial ruin just trying to keep their homes protected. 7’s Kevin Ozebek investigates this “storm of trouble.”
This Dania Beach home has been a labor of love for Victor Lucas.
Victor Lucas, homeowner: “Yeah, I did a lot of renovation to almost every inch of the house.”
But when damage from hurricane Katrina in 2005 forced him to replace his roof, he wanted the next one to better withstand any future storms, so he went to work.
Victor Lucas: “Triple-nailed all the shingles down.”
His roof hasn’t had a problem in years, but it’s causing a major headache now.
Victor Lucas: “This is just pure wrong.”
Late last year, Victor decided to shop around for cheaper homeowner’s insurance. He found a different company that matched his previous coverage for a better rate.
Victor Lucas: “They asked for a four point inspection and a wind mitigation, which I did do at my expense.”
The four point inspection says the roof has five years of useful life left. Victor says the insurance company reviewed everything and approved his policy. A month later, he got a letter from his new insurance company.
Victor Lucas: “I received a notice stating that they may send out a inspector of their own to review the house.”
Victor says an inspector came up here and took pictures of the roof and other parts of the property. It all took less than a hour.
Victor Lucas: “And the results, in my opinion, were disastrous.”
Victor’s insurance company sent this letter, telling him the policy was being canceled. The insurance company says, the roof is “unacceptable due to age and/or condition.”
Victor Lucas: “The integrity of my roof is beyond what what they consider a sound roof.”
Even with offers to replace the roof, the company wrote there would be “no reconsideration, reinstatement or rewrite.”
William Hardin, Dean of FIU College of Business: “Well, I think most companies are just going to say no.”
William Hardin is the Dean of FIU’s School of Business and a real estate expert. He says insurance companies often use older roofs as a reason to cancel in order to avoid taking an expensive risk.
William Hardin: “And of course, that’s where people could argue the most risk is, which is you’re going to have to replace it anyway.”
Victor says replacing his roof is too expensive but so are the quotes he’s getting from other private insurance companies.
Victor Lucas: “I’m getting quotes: $12,000; $15,000; $16,000.”
Hardin says insurance companies are trying to make up for big losses over the past few years.
William Hardin: “They would argue you’ve been paying too little, but now you need everyone to catch up. Everyone’s seeing some type of increase.”
That is not what Victor wants to hear.
Victor Lucas: “We’ve been staying up at nighttime searching the internet trying to find what we’re going to do. What are the best means?”
Victor, as well as most homeowners across Florida, should prepare to pay even more to protect their homes, whether it comes in the form of a new roof or a new policy.
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