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Florida lawyer explains impact of new property insurance law on homeowners

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – The new property insurance law, passed during the special session, will impact all homeowners. 8 On Your Side has the five major takeaways from the special session.

David Murray is an attorney who has been representing homeowners for 20 years.

He is breaking down the impact of Florida’s new property insurance laws.

“Homeowners need to understand what they’re buying when they buy their insurance policy,” said Mr. Murray.

First, in exchange for a lower premium, insurance companies are now offering policies where you waive your right to file a lawsuit.

If there’s a dispute, you cannot go to court, you go to a third party arbitrator.

It’s called “mandatory binding arbitration” and Murray said beware.

“Ask for a full and complete copy of the policy of insurance provision that tells you exactly how the mandatory binding arbitration provision works, exactly how it’s paid for and exactly how much more you are saving if you chose to purchase that endorsement,” said Murray.

Next, know the claims deadlines have changed. Now you have one year to file.

Insurance companies have 30 days to inspect and 60 days to approve or deny the claim.

Murray said act fast and record everything.

“You want to keep your own activity log of who you’ve talked to, what you’ve talked about,” he said.

“Send emails. Go into their portals, upload messages, make sure that you have the documentation should your insurance company not fulfill its obligation,” he said.

Third, Murray said while you wait for the insurance company’s estimate, consider getting your own detailed estimate of repair costs.

For that, you’ll need a contractor and it’ll cost you.

“A good contractor that will write it in the format that the insurance company does, probably $1,000,” Murray said.

Fourth, no matter what, be prepared to pay your own attorney’s fees.

The new law is eliminating the old right successful litigants had.

Finally, on a positive note, assignment of benefit contracts are now banned, said Murray.

Homeowners can no longer sign over benefits to contractors, who seek payment from insurance companies.

Murray said that’ll lead to fewer lawsuits.

“The tarp company can have an assignment of benefits, the water dry out company can have an assignment of benefits,” he said. “I think the assignment of benefits reform is a step in the right direction.”

Just beware, if there’s a hurricane, the claims deadlines go out the window. That means insurance companies can take their time getting back to you.

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