Your Right To Repair
With hurricane season upon us, it’s important to know exactly what your insurance policy entails. In the last few years, the majority of Florida insurance providers have adopted what’s known as a “right to repair” or “option to repair” clause in standard policies. At first glance, this may seem like a positive policy clause, but insurance companies often use these clauses to take advantage of policyholders and pay out less than they would without the right to repair clause. Orlando attorneys can help homeowners avoid the pitfalls of these controversial clauses.
What Is The Right To Repair?
The right to repair clause gives insurance providers control over who conducts the repairs covered by the insurance policy. This means that if a property is damaged by a hurricane or accident, instead of paying out the cost of the repairs to the homeowner, the insurance company chooses its own contractor and pays the contractor directly. The homeowner has almost no involvement in the repair work, and because the contractor is paid by the insurance provider, the contractor is under no obligation to answer to the homeowner.
The Problems With Right To Repair
The right to repair clause poses several dangers to property owners. As with any business, an insurance company’s primary objective is to increase its profits. Without the clause, when the homeowner makes a claim, the insurance provider sends an adjuster to assess the damage and create an estimate. If the property owner is satisfied with the estimate, the insurance company pays the policyholder directly, and the homeowner uses that money to either hire a contractor or conduct the repairs themselves. By employing their own contractors and repairmen, insurance companies are able to spend less on repairs than they would if policyholders were paid directly. Unfortunately for homeowners, this can result in:
- Substandard repairs
- A lack of control over the repairs
- Partial repairs
- Unlawful repairs or repairs performed without permits
- Untimely repairs
Homeowners in Florida are particularly at risk of hurricane damage, which needs to be addressed as quickly as possible. Some Florida homeowners with the right to repair clauses spend months debating with their insurance companies, during which time their hurricane damage goes unresolved.
Bad faith insurance companies can use the right to repair clause to hire contractors who may cut corners, and property owners have little recourse against them. This can lead to time-consuming insurance disputes that further delay repairs.
What Are Your Options
If your insurance policy features the right to repair clause, talk to a property insurance lawyer about your options. It may not be too late to back out of your policy, and an experienced attorney will be able to review your policy and determine whether it is better for you to switch to a new insurance provider or stay in your current plan. Once an insurance company utilizes the option to repair clause, it becomes the guarantor of the repairs, leaving it financially responsible for continual payouts in the future. To avoid this, insurance providers may use the right to repair as a strong-arming technique to pressure policyholders into accepting an estimate, but insurance providers would be hesitant to take on potential future financial responsibility by actually using the right to repair. Our property insurance attorneys deal directly with insurance providers to protect you from this kind of manipulation.
Even if you’ve already signed a contract, an experienced insurance claims lawyer may still be able to salvage some of your losses. Our property insurance attorneys are familiar with the language insurance providers use to their advantage and the best strategies to combat these techniques. Schedule a free insurance consultation with the Law Offices of Michael B. Brehne, P.A. today to discuss your best options.