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The Villages
Friday, May 7, 2021

Officials warn ‘free’ roof deals may be too good to be true

The number of homes being re-roofed in The Villages has been raising eyebrows, and when Villagers learn their neighbors are getting “free” roofs thanks to insurance claims, many may fear they are missing the boat.

In our area of The Villages there are a lot of new roofs being put on houses. This is fine because the houses around here are about 20 years old and so are their roofs, and these roofs were designed to last 20 years. What is not fine is that everyone who has homeowners insurance will eventually have to pay for these worn out roofs,” said John Hunter of the Village of Santiago.

Here’s how the process goes, according to Hunter:

“An inspector comes to them and says that he will inspect their roof for free. The homeowner says fine go ahead and have a look. The inspector, of course, finds that the roof should be replaced and tells the homeowner that it was damaged by a storm some time in the past and that his homeowners insurance will buy him a new roof. The homeowner is delighted and calls his insurance company to report the storm damage. The insurance company sends out an insurance adjuster who confirms the findings of the original inspector. The insurance company then authorizes a roofing company to put on a new roof and writes a check to pay for it minus the deductible on the homeowners policy. The homeowner is happy that he got his old worn out roof replaced for nearly free.”
He contends the roof is not “free.” He argues that insurance premiums will go up. Regardless of whether you got a free roof.

A key part of the deal between the roofer and homeowner is the Assignment of Benefit or AOB.

“An AOB is an agreement that transfers the insurance claims rights or benefits of the policy to a third party. An AOB gives the third party authority to file a claim, make repair decisions, and collect insurance payments without the involvement of the homeowner. AOBs have been used with life and health insurance policies for many years. However, AOBs are now being commonly used in homeowners’ insurance claims by restoration companies and contractors. Signing an AOB can be helpful with navigating the claims process, but if misused, it can lead to harmful consequences for the homeowner,” said Jimmy Patronis, Florida’s Chief Financial Officer.

All of the “free” roofs have gotten the attention of state Rep. Brett Hage, R-Oxford, who represents The Villages in the Florida House of Representatives. He has suggested that homeowners should be careful about signing over their rights and they could end up footing the bill if the insurance company doesn’t pay in full.

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