Editorial: Citizens Property Insurance roof rule too strict

Oct 31, 2011

The following article was published in the Tampa Tribune on October 31, 2011:

Citizens Roof Rule Too Strict

By TBO.com

Citizens Property Insurance Corp., Florida’s insurer of last resort, has taken to roof inspections before renewing policies on homes 25 years old or older.

If a roof won’t last at least three years, the company is requiring homeowners to replace it. If they can’t afford it, tough luck. Policy canceled.

It’s understandable that Citizens would want to provide coverage only for houses that can withstand hurricane winds, but making homeowners replace roofs that have years of life left in them, especially in these tough economic times, is hurting citizens and burdening the already fragile housing market.

As the Tribune’s Shannon Behnken has reported, thousands of Floridians have had to pass roof inspections to retain insurance coverage. But some homeowners have let their coverage lapse, which could push the state’s already high foreclosure rate even higher.

Moreover, the Citizens rule is raising concerns about fraud.

Behnken profiled Jeff Zilinski, a New Port Richey man who says he hired four roofers who told him his roof needed immediate replacement. They wouldn’t sign off on the Citizen’s form, which nearly forced Zilinski, who has never missed a mortgage payment, into foreclosure. He didn’t have the $5,000 needed for a new roof, and he faced the prospect of having his mortgage lender assign him a more expensive policy, which would have pushed his monthly payment beyond what he could afford.

Luckily for Zilinski, a roofer read Behnken’s account and heard about it on News Channel 8. Mark Gelling inspected the roof and determined it would last another five years. Zilinski’s policy should be renewed.

But his experience raises the question: Are consumers at a disadvantage when they must rely on roofers who have something to gain from recommending a new roof? The construction business is down, and some roofers see easy money in Citizens’ requirement.

Citizens has said homeowners tend to wait too long to repair or replace their roofs. Perhaps so, but if a roof is functional today, the homeowner should not be penalized because of a rule. Citizens should lighten up.

Find this article here:  http://www2.tbo.com/news/opinion/2011/oct/31/meopino1-citizens-roof-rule-too-strict-ar-299162/