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Matching Protections for Hurricane Michael Losses

When your home is rebuilt or repaired after a hurricane such as Hurricane Michael, you have the right to expect that the job is done professionally. Storms and natural disasters don’t choose their path of destruction with the cosmetics or functional use of your home in mind. They damage everything in their path. It’s up to your insurance carrier to ensure that the repairs to damaged items work with and match the items that weren’t damaged. Fortunately, in Florida, insurers are obligated by statute to respect these matching needs.

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners, Model Law for Casualty Claims, Section 9 is titled, “Standards for Prompt, Fair and Equitable Settlements Applicable to Fire and Extended Coverage Type Policies with Replacement Cost Coverage.” The following section provides, in relevant part, that:

  1. When the policy provides for the adjustment and settlement of first party losses based on replacement cost, the following shall apply:

(2) When a loss requires replacement of items and the replaced items do not match in quality, color or size, the insurer shall replace all items in the area so as to conform to a reasonably uniform appearance. This applies to interior and exterior losses. The insured shall not bear any cost over the applicable deductible, if any.

Florida adopted a comparable statute, that provides:

Unless otherwise provided by the policy, when a homeowner’s insurance policy provides for the adjustment and settlement of first-party losses based on repair or replacement cost, the following requirements apply:

When a loss requires replacement of items and the replaced items do not match in quality, color, or size, the insurer shall make reasonable repairs or replacement of items in adjoining areas. In determining the extent of the repairs or replacement of items in adjoining areas, the insurer may consider the cost of repairing or replacing the undamaged portions of the property, the degree of uniformity that can be achieved without such cost, the remaining useful life of the undamaged portion, and other relevant factors.

These sections essentially require that the insurance company provide coverage so that if undamaged property doesn’t have a suitable match, then the insurance company should work to find a suitable match or consider paying for the replacement (or repair) of the undamaged property in addition to the damaged items.

The aim of these requirements is that the homeowner should essentially have the right to a nice and functional replacement after natural disasters like Hurricane Michael or other covered perils. It doesn’t make sense to repair or install a half portion of carpet that doesn’t match the other half of carpet that wasn’t damaged. Instead, the insurance company should pay for full new carpet. The same logic applies to damage to walls, the roof, siding, or the rest of the home.

The decision is ultimately a balancing test that weighs the requirement for desire for uniformity and the life of the undamaged property with the cost of making broader repairs or replacements.

The new Florida law only applies to residences, not to commercial buildings.

At Warhurst Law, our Florida insurance dispute lawyers understand that all the little details matter. It’s natural, after a hurricane or other disaster damages your home to focus on the large costs such as providing a home that’s habitable. Homes are more than just structures though. They’re where you live, dine, entertain, and grow. When disasters strike, our insurance attorneys fight to get our clients compensation for everything the contract and the state laws permit. To schedule an appointment with an experienced insurance lawyer and a former claims adjuster, call us at 251-694-1932 or use our contact form to schedule an appointment. We represent clients throughout the Southeast including Alabama, Florida, the Gulf Coast and the Florida panhandle.

* Warhurst Law cannot and does not guarantee an outcome to any case.

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