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Court Ruling Against Improperly Eliminated Homeowners Insurance Discounts

An administrative judge has ruled that the forms used by property insurers in Florida, especially those used by state operated Citizens Property Insurance Corp. to massively deny wind mitigation discounts, are seriously flawed and must be completely disregarded.

Not All Discounts Taken Into Account

According to staugustine.com, Administrative Law Judge Robert Meale found that the forms, which were created by the Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR), failed to provide separate discounts for homes with wind resistant garage doors, as required by state law. These discounts are mutually dependent. In other words, if a house has approved hurricane shutters protecting its doors and windows but has a non rated garage door that would not withstand hurricane winds should a storm hit, the house would be as vulnerable as if it was completely unprotected. Consequently, if a homeowner gets a discount for having hurricane shutters protecting his home’s doors and windows, he should also get a discount for having a garage door that will withstand hurricane winds.

This situation prompted the judge to nullify all mitigation forms used when houses built before 2011 were inspected. This is when the more comprehensive Florida Building Code was enacted.

Fortifying Garage Doors

Studies done after hurricanes Andrew and Charley showed that many houses were destroyed when winds broke through weak garage doors and rushed through homes, causing roofs to cave in and walls to crumble. Consequently, the studies concluded, fortifying old garage doors is one of the best ways to prevent wind damage during a hurricane. Also, it’s a lot cheaper than buying a new garage door.

A new garage door can cost between $1,000.00 and $2,000.00. A product called “Secure Door”, sold at Lowe’s for about $150.00 makes an old garage door as safe as a new one. Insurers failure to offer discounts for safer garage doors have not only cost more money to homeowners, but a substantial loss of revenue to the business that manufactures the aforementioned “Secure Door” product. Consequently, Jack Stumpff, owner of the company that produces “Secure Door”, filed the lawsuit that brought about Judge Robert Meale’s ruling.

No Immediate Benefit

Although the decision could have far reaching implications for homeowners throughout the State, no immediate benefit should be expected from this ruling, as the OIR has appealed it and an appeal process takes time. However, if Judge Meale’s decision is confirmed at the appellate level, insurers may have to reimburse millions of dollars to policyholders. For example, the state’s largest insurer, Citizens Property Insurance Corp., who holds about 1.5 million policies, has been steadily implementing a re-inspection campaign throughout the last year that has deprived three out of four homeowners of the hurricane mitigation discounts they were previously receiving, causing an average premium hike of $800.00 a year.

The Lawyers of Greenberg Stone and Urbano Can Help

You should always have an attorney help you review your policy and advise you on what coverage you should have and for how much. If you are about to renew your policy (with the same insurer or a new one), we can help you review it and make sure you are adequately covered and in a position to avoid costly expenses should disaster strike.

Moreover, please note that if your home has already sustained damages, our team of loss consultants, paralegals, and attorneys will assist you in every aspect of your claim. Our loss consultant will even go to your home to evaluate the damage you sustained at no cost or obligation to you. Contact us today for a free inspection by our loss consultant.

With more than 100 years of combined experience, the Miami Dade County Homeowners Insurance Claims Law Offices of Greenberg Stone and Urbano have helped thousands of Homeowners all over Florida review their policies, present their claims and get the compensation owed them by their insurance carrier. Visit our website to learn more about our firm and contact us today for a free consultation.

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