Homeowner Bill of Rights Misses Chance to Lower Homeowners Insurance Rates
by: Jessica Bosari
April 25th, 2014
Imagine a world in which homeowners are guaranteed certain rights when it comes to filing claims. Imagine knowing you have a right to fast claims service and expedient communications. Homeowners would be able to trust that their claims would be paid swiftly, instead of being denied over unfair and obscure policy exclusions. This is the dream of Florida’s chief financial officer Jeff Atwater, however one provision originally in the bill, which would have potentially lowered homeowners insurance rates, will likely be removed.
Related: Florida Family Saves More Than $47,000 on Homeowners Insurance Rates
Contentious Battle over Bill Provisions
Atwater was motivated to push the bill after receiving an overwhelming number of calls from consumers about claims problems from their homeowners insurance companies. Although many of the bill’s provisions are already enacted under other laws, Atwater wants to give homeowners a handbook of sorts – a single law they can reference that clearly explains their rights when making claims.
“Consumers don’t have a bookshelf at home with these statutes. They are not conversant in this,” Atwater told the Pensacola News Journal.
The biggest stakeholders in the Homeowner Bill of Rights are consumers, homeowners insurance companies and the contractors who perform the repair work related to damage claims. And a large bone of contention pits contractors against insurers, according to The Palm Beach Post,
Insurance companies want limits on homeowners’ rights to assign benefits to a contractor, citing contractor fraud as a big driver of high homeowners insurance rates. Contractors opposed this provision, which was subsequently struck from the bill. This means that insurance companies will still be at the mercy of contractors who often inflate bills to collect larger insurance settlements. This will likely keep homeowners insurance rates high. The bill is still making it’s way through the Florida legislature, but seems likely to pass.
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