Leave It to Layron meets woman dealing with cancellation of homeowners' insurance policy

By Layron Livingston - Reporter

DAVIE, Fla. - Tiffany Forman spent more than a year getting her "rustic-meets-shabby chic" home the way she likes it.

She told the Leave it to Layron team she purchased her manufactured home in 2018, and immediately started updating it with new appliances, quartz countertops and a new backsplash for the kitchen. She installed new flooring and new lighting, and she overhauled the guest bathroom. 

The work didn’t stop inside. She put in a new fence and new turf, and she installed a new air conditioning unit.

"I had an [inspection] done, and [the roofer] said I had at least 12 years left on my roof, and I had to get a patch," Forman said.

From outside, you can see the space -- which is maybe, 6 square feet, covered in new shingles -- where the roof repair was made in March.

Forman said her new homeowners' insurance policy went into effect weeks later, in April. 

"One day, I got a knock on my door from some guy," Forman said. The man was from her insurance company. She said the man wanted to walk around the house and take some photographs. 

"I said, 'That's fine," Forman said.  

Several days later, Forman said she received a letter in the mail from her insurance company, notifying her that her coverage had been canceled, effective June 1.

The letter from Safe Harbor Insurance read, in part:

"Structures and premises must be in good physical condition without need of repairs. Roof is at end of useful life with large patched area that is uneven with lifting shingles, exterior of home is mildewed, and undisclosed pets”

Forman said she owns her own power washer and she went to work cleaning her vinyl siding. She also said that she didn’t consider her 7-pound dachshund would be an issue because the breed is not considered aggressive.    

Forman said she tried getting her policy reinstated.

"To the underwriter, I said, 'So, your gentleman who was walking around the perimeter of my house and saw the patch on my roof, that supersedes a roofer going up there and giving you a letter telling you that I have nothing wrong with my roof? And [the underwriter] said, 'Yes,'" Forman said. "How is that possible?"

"Unfortunately, in bad storms, manufactured homes have more problems, and insurers know this," said Marc Ben-Ezra, managing attorney with the Florida Professional Law Group. "They may be looking and saying, 'Well, if there was any indication that her roof was repaired, maybe there's any weakness in her roof, it's just not a risk that we want.'"  

According to Florida law, insurance companies can cancel policies that have been in place for 90 days, or less for reasons other than nonpayment. Twenty days’ written notice must accompany that cancellation.

Forman’s policy, which went into effect in April, says that when the “policy has been in effect for 90 days or less, we may cancel for any reason." 

"Both the law and the language of that policy that was canceled say that they don't have to reinstate her," said Marc Ben-Exra. 

"I think it's really unfair what the insurance companies do to people," Forman said. 
 
It took weeks, but Forman was able to get a policy with Citizens Property Insurance Corp., the government insurer. 

Her premium almost doubled, though, going from $1,352, to $2,255 even though she’s never filed a claim, and she is ahead on her payments because her insurance is paid through her mortgage. Forman should get a refund on those prepaid insurance premiums, Ben-Ezra said. 

Ben-Ezra also said homeowners such as Forman should contact their state lawmakers, and lobby them, just like the insurance companies do, to help rewrite those laws.

"They need to hear from individual citizens and voters about issues that are important to them, and this is a very real world experience that’s occurring," Ben-Ezra said.
 

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