The Florida Senate passed SB 76 on Wednesday, a bill that that will target roof damage claims as well as litigation against insurance companies.

The bill clarifies options for insurance coverage related to roof damage and replacement, creates a uniform period for filing a property insurance claim, requires that the insured party provide notice to the insurance company before filing a lawsuit, and changes how attorney fees are awarded in property insurance litigation.

“This legislation ensures there is a clear understanding between homeowners and their insurance companies regarding when a roof replacement will be covered in full and establishes a clear and reasonable two-year time period for filing a claim,” said Senate President Wilton Simpson (R-Trilby) in a written statement. “These reforms seek to reduce frivolous claims by those who take advantage of areas that were affected by hurricanes when claims spike at the end of the three-year claim window and often have no damage related to the hurricane.”

Regarding roofing, the bill allows property insurers to only offer homeowner’s policies that adjust roof claims to actual cash value if the roof is older than 10 years. The bill also allows property insurers to offer homeowners the option of purchasing a stated value limit for roof coverage. 

The bill will make it so insurers use a “roof surface reimbursement schedule” to sell policies that provide reduced payments for roofs that are 10 years and older. The schedule must provide for full replacement coverage for any roof surface type less than 10 years old.

For roofs that are 10 years or older, the schedule must provide for repair, replacement, and installation based on the roof surface’s annual age based on the following minimum reimbursement amounts:

  • 70% for metals roofs
  • 40% for concrete tile and clay tile
  • 40% for wood shake and wood shingle
  • 25% for all other roof types

This will shift more of the payment onto homeowners when they experience damage to their roofs. As such, homeowners offered this policy will receive a disclosure stating that it “may result in your having to pay significant costs to repair or replace your roof.”

It should be noted, though, that in the event of a total loss caused by a covered peril, the actual cash value as determined by the reimbursement schedule doesn’t apply. SB 76 also creates a two-year period for filing a property insurance claim, supplemental claim or reopened claim.

According to the Miami Herald, those in support of SB 76 state it is needed to halt the increasing insurance rates homeowners are facing. Opponents have argued the changes will hurt customers and doesn’t guarantee that rates will decrease. The Republican-controlled Senate voted 27-13 on SB 76, though it differs from the House’s property insurance bill, HB 305, which doesn’t allow insurers to provide reduced payments for roof damage.

Along with the insurance changes,  SB 76 requires detailed notice of property insurance claims prior to litigation and changes how attorney fees are awarded. Before a lawsuit is filed, the insurer must be notified of the claim in detail and be given sufficient time to inspect the property before a lawsuit is filed.