One of the primary sources of property damage claims in Florida includes damage to a roof system caused by windstorm or hail. Hurricanes and storms are prevalent in Florida, so you might find your residential structure or commercial building in need of filing an insurance claim to repair your damaged roof and/or the resulting water damage on your ceiling or structure. One of the problems you may encounter deals with a common insurance company practice of limiting repair of the roof structure to only those damaged areas.
For example, you may obtain only a partial coverage determination which identifies a portion of your roof as damaged and covered and the remaining areas damaged by excluded causes such as “wear and tear” or lack of maintenance. Assuming you accepted the insurance company’s determination that only a portion of the roof was damaged, your building contractor might point you to the Florida Building Code, which states:
“Not more than 25% of the total roof area or roof section of any existing building or structure shall be repaired, replaced or recovered in any 12 month period unless the entire roofing system or roof section conforms to requirements of this code.”
For your reference, this appears in Chapter 15, section 1521.4 of the 2014 Florida Building Code.
Bring in the Experts or View Other Options
Based on the Florida Building Code and the typical roof claim adjustment in Florida, you may be looking at a scenario where the insurer takes the position that only a portion of the roof is covered and the Florida Building Code requires that you replace the entire roof. In such a scenario, the entire purpose behind your insurance may be thwarted as you will be forced to pay for the cost of replacing the portion of the roof not covered by the carrier. In order to combat this absurd result, we recommend to our clients that they do the following: (1) allow our firm to hire a reputable engineering firm to analyze the damage and (2) review your policy to determine whether law and ordinance coverage exists.
The right expert can look at samples of your roof and the pattern of damage to determine the merit of an insurance company argument that only a portion of the structure was damaged. These reports, opinions and the evidence from their investigation, if presented correctly to the insurer, will often lead to an extension of coverage for the loss.
Given the requirements of the building code, another strategy is simply to rely on your policy’s law and ordinance coverage provision. Generally, this additional coverage exists to provide policy benefits necessary in order to comply with the applicable ordinance or law regarding repair or reconstruction. Assuming your policy has coverage for law and ordinance, in light of the 25 percent rule outlined above, you may be entitled to the cost of a full replacement.
Roof claims are common in Florida and consequently the insurance companies have devised sophisticated practices aimed at limiting your ability to recover under your policy of insurance. If you’re currently dealing with an insurance company or preparing to open a claim, give us a call to discuss how we may help you obtain the policy benefits you deserve.