ORMOND BEACH, Fla. - An Ormond Beach home had only minor damage from Hurricane Matthew, but months later the homeowners got hit with a huge repair bill by their insurance company.
The owners said they were told that if they didn't pay for a new roof, their policy would be canceled. Action 9's Todd Ulrich investigated a new insurance threat that could really cost people.
Hurricane Matthew beat up lots of homes, but not Susan Gaines home in Ormond Beach. She said the storm only peeled off a half dozen shingles. She said she didn't file an insurance claim for minor damage fearing higher premiums or worse.
“We didn't want to get dropped,” said Gaines.
Then her carrier, Frontline Insurance, sent a notice telling her to replace the entire roof and she had to pay. The company claimed a routine inspection found far more damage.
“I'm thinking what in the world are they talking about,” said Gaines.
The insurance notice was not a request, but a demand. It required full roof replacement in 45 days or the policy is canceled.
Gaines had her roofing company do its own inspection. It recommended just several new shingles and said the roof did not need to be replaced for years.
“He would guesstimate anywhere between five and 10 years left of life in the roof," Gaines said.
After the 2004 hurricanes, insurers offered discounts for new roofs. Now some roofing contractors claim instead of rewards, homeowners with older roofs are being punished.
Contractor Greg Hageman served on the state construction licensing board.
“That's quite a hit for the consumer,” said Hageman, owner of Greg's Roofing Inc.
He's seen many cases where homeowners were forced to buy new roofs they didn't need.
“Nine out of 10 times they're going to require the roofs torn off and new roof put on, even though there's nothing wrong with the roof,” said Hageman.
After Gaines challenged Frontline, it dropped the new roof demand.
“I think they use that to scare you into doing things," Gaines said.
Frontline Insurance told Action 9 that inspection was for a five-year renewal, not the hurricane and these inspections identify damage, and help protect the property.
Consumers can challenge the insurance company, get their own roofing inspection, and ask for state mediation.
"First we would like to thank you and Action 9 News for bringing this matter to our attention. We regret to hear that our actions were perceived to have any motive other than ensuring our customers have the healthiest home possible. It is Frontline’s standard procedure to order a renewal Home Checkup on a property as needed, not to exceed five years. The Gaines’ last Home Checkup was November of 2011 and therefore was scheduled for a renewal checkup at the end of 2016. This checkup was in no way connected with Hurricane Mathew.
"Our team observed some damage to the Gaines’ roof and sent out a repair request as is standard procedure. The Gaines’ were responsive in taking action and making the repairs which were approved. They at no time lost coverage and their policy is renewing this month.
"Regular Home Checkups help us to identify and address areas of and items at the home that have the potential to cause damage. As partners in maintaining the health of our customers’ home, we have a fiduciary duty to our customers to ensure that we take an active role in protecting their home and in keeping insurance rates down by preventing loss.
"We take this responsibility very seriously and have a dedicated Home Solutions department tasked with assisting our homeowners in maintaining or repairing their home.
"We would like to extend the benefits of our newly established Home Repair Program to the Gains’. As part of our promise to help customers manage the health of their home, we will help pay the cost of home repairs up to $400.
"This repair is a preventative measure and in no way involves a claim or their deductible.
"It is our hope that the Gaines’ understand that we never intend to jeopardize our customer’s insurance coverage or single out any properties based on a weather event. We look forward to our continued partnership with the Gaines’ and the opportunity to ensure their home enjoys many healthy years to come."
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