If you see “right to repair” or “option to repair” in your homeowner's policy, it could mean trouble.
What Does "Right to Repair" Mean?
A "right to repair" provision allows an insurance company to assign one of its preferred vendors to perform repairs on your property.
Consider this: you file a roof claim with your carrier. The carrier determines you have coverage and informs you its preferred vendor will perform the repairs. You might think this is good news because it will save you the hassle of having to find and pay for your own contractor out of the proceeds from your insurance claim.
Nothing could be further from the truth. When you hear “right to repair,” be afraid—be very afraid.
Countless problems can arise by allowing your insurance company to choose the contractor who will perform repairs to your property. In my professional capacity, I have seen:
Incomplete repairs. Work that was started was never finished, leaving openings in the homeowner’s floors where I saw critters scurrying!
Inadequate/faulty repairs. The preferred vendor improperly installed the roof.
Additional damage. Repairs by the preferred vendor caused additional damage to the property.
Endless repair work. Repairs that seemed to take forever.
Full disclosure: this is not to say that all loss consultants (roofers, general contractors, loss mitigation experts) who do work for insurance carriers are bad. I’m simply pointing out that, when the insurance company is paying for repair services, it decides on the scope and the cost of the work. In other words, you as the homeowner lose control over the repairs.
So which insurance companies have the most right to repair provisions?
The 3 Big Bad “Right to Repair” Carriers
There are three main insurance companies in Florida that have a preferred vendor provision and invoke it consistently on covered losses:
People’s Trust Insurance Company
Citizens Property Insurance Company
American Traditions Insurance Company
Even insurance companies without a right to repair provision may pressure you to use the contractor who evaluated your claim, despite the obvious conflict of interest.
What Should You Do if You Have a Right to Repair Clause in Your Policy?
The answer is an unsatisfactory one: it depends. Here’s why.
If you do NOT have a claim pending and your policy contains a right to repair clause, immediately try to find a new insurance carrier or get the provision removed. Speak to an experienced insurance attorney about your potential options in finding new insurance as soon as possible.
If you DO have a claim pending and your policy has an option to repair clause that the insurance company is attempting to invoke, you must let the preferred vendor perform the repairs. If they fail to properly repair the damage (which happens more often than you would think), then go after your insurance company on the grounds that they are the guarantor of the work.
Of course, this is not ideal. Who wants shoddy work performed at their property that will ultimately lead to a lawsuit? Your best option is to identify and eliminate the right to repair clause in your policy before you need to file a claim.
While the “right to repair” or “option to repair” clause sounds like a fine idea at first, it usually is not. It can complicate your insurance claim, and it turns over control to your insurance company. Remember: insurance companies will always do what benefits them the most!
If you have a right to repair provision in your homeowners’ policy, call PZ Law Firm today at 407-500-EZPZ (3979) for a free consultation.
Disclaimer: This column does not create a client-attorney relationship and is not intended as legal advice. Should you need any legal advice, speak to an attorney who is skilled in the area and jurisdiction you require.