Friday, October 28, 2011

Florida Insurer's Roof Inspection Requirement May Leave Some Homeowners Stuck Between Possible Foreclosure Threats & Contractor Ripoffs

In New Port Richey, Florida, The Tampa Tribune reports:

  • Roofer Mark Gelling was saddened when he heard about a Pasco family on the verge of losing their home because of a worn out roof. But empathy turned into anger when he saw detailed photos of the roof, which seemed to be in fine shape. So he decided to do something about it.

  • "I knew something was wrong," he said. "I went to church on Sunday, and I came home and told the wife, 'I'm going to run by there.' And I drove by and looked and said, 'He definitely doesn't need a roof.' " After inspecting it himself, he said Jeff Zilinski's roof will last about five more years.

  • This is after four other contractors Zilinski hired to inspect his roof and sign off on a required insurance form all said his roof needed to be replaced immediately. They wouldn't sign the form, and that nearly forced Zilinski, who has never missed a mortgage payment, into foreclosure. "At this point I just don't have the assets to get a new roof," Zilinski said.

  • Without the form, Citizens Insurance said it would drop Zilinski's coverage October 28. He didn't have the $5,000 needed to replace the roof. And because he has a mortgage, the lender would have assigned him a policy — likely at triple the cost.

  • That would have pushed his mortgage payment beyond what he could afford, and Zilinski said he likely would have lost the home to foreclosure. He asked Citizens for more time to save money for a new roof, but that request was denied.


  • Zilinski is one of thousands across Florida whose homes must pass a roof inspection before they can get a policy renewed with Citizens, the state's insurer of last resort. Any home 25 or more years old is subject to the inspection, which verifies the roof is expected to last at least three years.

  • Many have gotten inspection reports signed with no problems. But Zilinski's case raises the question: Are consumers at a disadvantage by relying on roofers who have something to gain by recommending a new roof? Gelling thinks so. He said roofing business is down, and he fears some roofers see easy money in Citizens' requirement.

For the story, see Insurer's rule for roofs raises fraud fears.

No comments: