The Right to Repair for Florida Homeowners
The ‘right to repair’ has become a hot topic in Florida over the past few years as the majority of Florida insurance providers now operate under this rule and include it as a standard clause in most homeowner’s insurance policies. At first glance, the term right to repair, or ‘option to repair’ as it’s sometimes called, may not sound all that bad. However, the term is misleading, and in reality, a right to repair clause gives the insurance company full control over who will perform any necessary repairs covered under the insurance policy.
The Problems with Right to Repair
Right to repair clauses exist in order to protect the interests of the insurer by giving them total control over repairs. Insurance companies are notoriously stingy, and it is in the best interest of the insurer to have the damaged repaired as cheaply as possible. Of course, this isn’t necessarily in the best interest of the homeowner. Instead, you obviously want to ensure that the repairs are done properly by a skilled professional using high quality materials.
With a right to repair clause, the homeowner has almost no involvement in the repair work. As the insurance company is the one paying the contractor, the contractor is under no obligation to the homeowner and technically doesn’t have to answer to or explain anything to the homeowner. A right to repair clause strips you of the right to choose and hire your own contractors or perform the repairs yourself. Since the most important thing for the insurer is that the job is done as cheaply as possible, you could easily end up with substandard work.
Even worse, the right to repair also takes away a homeowner’s ability to dispute the insurance settlement. In essence, right to repair means you and your opinions don’t matter. When an insurance company invokes its right to repair, Florida law states that the insurer becomes the legal guarantor of the repairs, which means that the company is legally liable for any construction work that the building department deems necessary. Unfortunately, this basically allows the insurer to force homeowners into accepting their settlement offer by threatening to take control of the repairs and bring in their own contractors if the owner doesn’t acquiesce.
Understanding Your Rights as a Homeowner
Although invoking the right to repair does give the insurer full control over the construction, right to repair doesn’t take away all of your rights as a homeowner. The law is very clear in that homeowners have the right to make sure that the work is done properly and using quality materials. Under Florida law, homeowners have the right to demand a full plan of the repairs that shows the scope of the work, the materials being used and that the repairs meet all relevant building codes. In this way, while you may not be able to control who does the repairs, you can at least guarantee that the work is done properly.
The problem is that getting an insurance company to cooperate isn’t always simple or straightforward, which is where one of our public adjusters can be a huge benefit. At Southeast Public Adjusters, we are highly knowledgeable about right to repair issues and have helped countless Florida homeowners to ensure their rights were respected. That being said, time is of the essence, and you’ll have a far better chance of success if you contact a public claims adjuster as soon as the damage occurs.
Our Florida public claim adjusters will review your insurance policy and help you to better understand how the right to repair clause will affect the repair process. We will also assist by dealing directly with the insurance company for you to ensure harassment and bullying tactics don’t force you to accept a bad deal. Many insurance companies attempt to use right to repair as a strong arm tactic, which means it is essential that you have a knowledgeable, determined advocate on your side. Therefore, if your property has recently suffered damage due to fire, flood, wind, storms, theft, etc., contact us today to see how our public claims adjuster can help to make sure your rights are respected.