I-TEAM: Uncovering why Florida homeowners risk
losing their insurance
Skyrocketing number of claims
& crooked contractors blamed
Article Courtesy of News4Jax
By Vic Micolucci
March 4, 2022
If you’ve noticed your homeowner’s
insurance premiums have skyrocketed, you’re not alone.
Florida is in a property insurance crisis
and many homeowners have been hit with an ultimatum: Replace
your roof or lose your coverage completely.
Regardless of the size of your home and the kind of roof you
get, a replacement will cost you thousands of dollars – a
cost that will come out of your own pocket.
“My insurance agent reached out to me and said my rates are
going up,” said Donny Mak, who owns a 100-year-old property
Mak tells the I-TEAM he’s facing a $1,500 a year hike
because his roof is more than 10 years old.
“It has never leaked. No issues. So, I don’t see why I have
to replace it, you know?”
If Mak doesn’t replace his roof, his insurance company could
ultimately drop him. The same goes for homeowner Sue
News4JAX I-TEAM investigator Vic Micolucci speaks
with Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis
“When we called our insurance agent, she said, ‘Good
luck finding something,’” Blanchard said. “We’ve always paid everything
on time. We’ve never had any claims.”
Countless homeowners across Florida are getting notices that their
insurance isn’t being renewed – because their roof is too old.
Ty Karakus with Southern Coast Roofing tells the I-TEAM his company gets
the frantic calls every day.
“They also give you a deadline,” Karakus said about the insurance
companies. “If you don’t get your roof done in such and such time frame,
you’re going to get dropped.”
“They are obligated to put that roof on. And what happens is they have
to pay out-of-pocket,” he added.
Daniel Miller, a broker and co-owner of Brightway Insurance, said don’t
blame the insurance companies – much of the blame falls on crooked
“The reason for the roof replacement requests is that so many claims are
being put on these homeowners’ insurance companies,” Miller said.
Miller said fraud is worse in Florida than anywhere else, with a record
number of phony claims after hurricanes and hailstorms. It’s turned the
insurance industry upside down – running many companies right out of the
“We have had two carriers enter the state over the last two years. We’ve
had about four leave. It just does not help for a ratio of creating
cheaper insurance,” Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis
told the I-TEAM.
And then there are the lawsuits, which he said can cost a company 20
times what the claim is for. Essentially, the companies still issuing
insurance policies in Florida must pass costs to consumers and make new
requirements to reduce the number of claims.
“It’s unfortunate that bad actors are getting in the middle of driving
up insurance rates,” said Patronis. “There’s exploitation of Florida
statutes in ways that were never meant to be used. Individuals are being
able to take advantage of the current Florida law in order to create --
in my eyes -- fraud. In the state of Florida’s eyes, it is legal by the
statutes. We’ve got to change that.”
“Do you think that the insurance providers are working in the public’s
best interest? Are they being fair here with these insurance hikes?” we
“You know I think they’re trying to survive. When you’ve got
exploitation taking place with the roofs. I’ll give you a perfect
example. Citizens Insurance -- there are approximately four law firms
that generate approximately 10,000 lawsuits every single month,” he
It’s not just your roof you need to worry about. Some insurance
companies are now asking for homeowners to replace hot water heaters,
plumbing, electrical – even if they’re in working order.
Again, an effort to limit the chances of you filing a claim. And again,
it’s more money out of your own pocket.
“Insurers are bleeding excessively here in Florida. We’re projecting an
underwriting loss in excess of $1.6 billion for 2021,” said Mark
Friedlander with the nonprofit Insurance Information Institute.
He tells the I-TEAM there’s a property insurance crisis like nowhere
else that’s triggering a domino effect with premiums skyrocketing.
“We’re hearing from homeowners across the state that are seeing 50%
increases, 100% increases,” said Friedlander. “And some of them have
legitimately never had a claim.”
Friedlander says homeowners need to:
He says if you have a mortgage and your insurance
company does drop you, you are required to get coverage. If not, your
bank will assign you coverage – which Friedlander warns can cost you
multiple times your latest quote.
“If there is somebody that has done everything right, they’re still
getting dropped and they don’t have the money for that total roof
replacement? Where do they go?” the I-TEAM asked Patronis.
“Unfortunately, it’s Citizens Insurance. It’s based right here in
Jacksonville. It’s the insurance company that both you and I own, every
citizen of the state owns. But it’s the insurance of last resort,” he
Patronis says to keep the situation from getting worse – stay away from
fly-by-night contractors who promise to make a claim on your behalf.
“Your house is insured. Your house is eligible to make claims. Just
don’t let somebody take you down the path where ultimately, it’s going
to make it harder for you to get your house re-insured because what
they’ve done to your ZIP Code, your neighborhood,” he said.
There could be some relief soon. Patronis is pushing a bill that
includes what’s called Home Hardening. If lawmakers pass it, you will
get a tax deduction for installing impact-resistant doors, windows, and
garages. Patronis says by strengthening your home, you could also save
money on your insurance premium. The Home Hardening initiative is part
of a tax package that is now headed to the full Florida House of
Representatives for a vote.