Category Archives:Uncategorized

June 27, 2017

Announcement - Florida Legal Elite™

For the second year in a row, Donna Stockham, has been recognized by her peers and colleagues as one of the top attorneys in Florida in the area of Insurance as published by Florida Trend magazine. Florida Legal Elite provides a prestigious roster of attorneys chosen by their peers for this recognition. All of us at Stockham Law Group wish to congratulate Mrs. Stockham on this extremely high honor!

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November 07, 2016

FAILURE OF MANAGED REPAIR IN FLORIDA - ABC ACTION NEWS. Air date November 2, 2016

If you missed our story on the failure of Managed Repair in Florida that aired on Nov. 2nd, here is an opportunity for you to watch it now at the below link. Please read your homeowner’s insurance policies and stay away from companies forcing Managed Repair. Most people do not even know they have this Managed Repair endorsement on their policy that deprives them of any say in how their home is fixed after a loss and who fixes it absent litigation.

http://www.abcactionnews.com/money/consumer/taking-action-for-you/it-is-a-new-trend-in-insurance-but-some-policy-holders-say-it-is-a-devastating-practice

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November 02, 2016

FAILURE OF MANAGED REPAIR IN FLORIDA - ABC ACTION NEWS (CHANNEL 28) TONIGHT AT 11 PM

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Tonight’s the night! Tune into ABC Action News (Channel 28) at 11 p.m. to see our story on the failure of Managed Repair in Florida. Story will air right after the CMA Awards. Please read your homeowner’s insurance policies and stay away from companies forcing Managed Repair. Most people do not even know they have this Managed Repair endorsement on their policy that deprives them of any say in how their home is fixed after a loss and who fixes it absent litigation. Tune in!

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September 07, 2016

JUSTIFIED REFUSAL TO HONOR THE INSURER'S DECISION TO REPAIR

Published by AAPIA on September 6, 2016 http://www.aapia.org/community/blog.php?user=11&blogentry_id=192

Just a few weeks ago another lawyer said to me . . . the property Insurer’s “option / right to repair” is absolute! TRUTH OR DARE?  Does the law absolutely require Florida homeowners to submit to repairs being invoked or implemented using deceptive trade practices?  Do they have to suffer a completed botched dry-out, remediation, or rebuild before taking action?  Do Florida homeowners have to sit back and take it when corners are cut or inferior materials are being put into their homes?  When might a homeowner be justified in refusing to honor the insurer’s decision to use its Managed Repair contractor and pursue a breach of contract action for payment of their claim?

Well, we already know from recent case law that the “right or option” to repair is not absolute when it is not properly invoked. Fla. Peninsula Ins. Co. v. Wagner, 2016 Fla. App. LEXIS 8262, 41 Fla. L. Weekly D 1279, 2016 WL 3065065 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2d Dist. June 1, 2016)   And, the Insurer is not the absolute determiner of the “scope” of the repairs.  Diaz v. Fla. Peninsula Ins. Co., 2016 Fla. App. LEXIS 8341, 41 Fla. L. Weekly D 1289, 2016 WL 3087811 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 4th Dist. June 1, 2016)  But what about other justifications for refusing to permit the Insurer to enforce its “option”?

At least one Florida Court, in the context of auto insurance, has recognized that there are absolutely circumstances that justify the Insured’s refusal to honor the insurer’s exercise of its “option”.  In Auto-Owners Ins. Co. v. Green, 220 So. 2d 29 (Fla. 1st DCA 1969), the court found that the automobile owner was justified in refusing to allow the insurer to repair when the insurer asked the insured to sign a scope related release though there was an indication of potential hidden damage. Applying this to the homeowner context – the option is not absolute when the Insurer attempts to use “the option” to pre-maturely gain agreement to cut-off available coverage.  But, what “other circumstances” will become “justified” remains an open question.  Here are some initial thoughts:

  • Unfair or deceptive practices by the Managed Repair Contractor;
  • Unreasonable delay in invoking the option or beginning repairs;
  • Wrongfully asking the Insured to pay out-of-pocket for covered repairs;
  • Refusal to provide information showing the Managed Repair Contractor is properly licensed, insured, and complying with all applicable laws;
  • Refusal to fully warrant the work of the Managed Repair Contractor (not pass-off that obligation);
  • Refusal to undertake a duty to defend and hold the Insured harmless or otherwise obtain a release of any and all liens related to the Managed Repair;

So where does that leave Florida homeowners?  For now, Florida homeowners may be about to break new ground in the embattled arena of Managed Repair.  It’s time to take a stand and show that unfair circumstances imposed on the homeowners justify their refusal to honor the insurer’s “right to repair” option.  We must shed light on the problems with this onerous “option” even if it has to be done one porch at a time.

Indeed, Stockham Law Group P.A. has already filed a case challenging the enforceability of the “option” where the Insurer and Repairer use unfair forms and practices to cut-off homeowners’ rights.  Stay tuned, as we continue to work to give homeowners back the right to repair their own homes.

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August 01, 2016

MANAGED REPAIR AN IMPORTANT VICTORY!

Published by AAPIA on August 5, 2016 http://www.aapia.org/community/browse_blogs.php?c=2

Citizens announced it is delaying the planned summer roll-out of its Managed Repair program until early 2017.  See, Citizens delaying managed repair program rollout until 2017, by Ron Hurtibise, www.sun-sentinel.com/business/consumer/fl-citizens-managed-repair-20160622-story.html.  And, more importantly, it appears that the program will not be mandatory.  THIS is an IMPORTANT VICTORY for Florida homeowners without private insurance alternatives.  Public scrutiny no doubt helped to pump the brakes on the plan.  The stories of several homeowners distraught and dissatisfied with their managed repair were highlighted in news stories featured in last month’s blog Shedding Light on the Dark Side of Managed Repair.

Indeed, Citizens’ move from a mandatory to optional program has the potential to trickle down and force private insurers using Managed Repair to make their Managed Repair programs optional as well.  This is good.  Movement away from mandatory programs would be a step in the right direction for Florida homeowners.  The true litmus test, however, will be the timing and nature of the disclosures surrounding the option.

What Florida Homeowners Give UP with Managed Repair

Florida homeowners should at a minimum be told that if “You”, homeowner, select the Managed Repair option to save a few premium dollars now:

  • YOU WILL GIVE UP the right to select, screen, and hire the contractor of your choice, (translation – who comes into your home is now up to the insurance company, not you);
  • YOU WILL GIVE UP the right to say what the contractor should be paid to complete the work, (translation – the insurance company will pay as little as it can for the work and you get to hope they do it right and/or do it at all);
  • YOU WILL GIVE UP the right to fire the contractor hired by the Insurance Company if you are dissatisfied, (translation – the contractor does not work for you); and
  • YOU WILL GIVE UP the right to withhold payment from the Contractor for shoddy, unacceptable or incomplete work, (translation – the insurance company’s approval and payment of the contractor is all that matters to the contractor; what you think is not relevant); and, most importantly,
  • YOU WILL GIVE US complete control over your home repairs even though our loyalty is to our shareholders NOT YOU, (translation – insurance company employees are paid to care about the bottom line not about your house).

Though a bit tongue and cheek, these disclosures and their translations bluntly reveal the real world issues facing alarmed, discouraged, and frustrated homeowners dealing with Managed Repair across the state.

Two Cases on Point

Bert

Bert is a Florida homeowner whose Insurer uses a direct affiliate to complete Managed Repairs.  After a supply line to his refrigerator breaks and causes damage to his ceiling, kitchen, kitchen cabinets, and floors, the Managed Repair affiliate swoops in with its own agenda bungling the job and refusing to listen to the homeowner or his Public Adjuster.  More specifically, the Insurer’s Managed Repair affiliate:

  • ripped out materials in the wrong part of the kitchen leaving exposed wiring with a small child living in the home;
  • left the affected area of the kitchen untouched and un-remediated for more than a week;
  • left water draining into an area where an electrical outlet they exposed remained openly accessible to the small child endangering Bert’s family; and
  • refused to even test the ceiling to see if it was wet even when both the homeowner and the Public Adjuster requested the inspection;

And Bert cannot tell them to get out of his house – Preposterous!!

As though the botched and dangerous beginnings of the Managed Repair were not bad enough, then came the corner cutting.  The Insurer and Managed Repair contractor tried to convince Bert to replace his wood flooring (that runs through most of the house) with tile only in the area of the kitchen and said they can “repair” his water damaged cabinets.  What happened to pre-loss condition?  Adding insult to injury, the Insurer wants Bert to pay out of his own pocket to help cover the Managed Repair.  Even though Bert has no control over what’s being done to his own home, they want Bert’s “deductible” to be paid to the contractor. Doesn’t “deductible” mean an amount “deducted” from a payment – not cash collected by the bullying, bungling Managed Repair contractor?

Ken

Ken is a Florida homeowner who lives hundreds of miles from Bert.  His house was recently damaged by a tornado.  The Insurer sent its Managed Repair contractor to tarp the roof.  The Managed Repair contractor botched the job using a patchwork of tarps, secured improperly, which ultimately detached allowing additional rain water into the house on more than one occasion.  And, when the homeowner requested an adequately sized and properly secured tarp be used to replace the patchwork job done – the Managed Repair contractor said the Insurance company would have to authorize it (i.e. pay them) and refused.  Now the Insurer wants Ken to let that Contractor, who botched the simple tarp job, complete the repairs.  Absurd!

Conflicts of Interest

Bottom line, both of these homeowner’s stories reveal the inherent conflicts of interest that plague Managed Repair – optional or not.  Florida homeowners should be fleeing from these unworkable programs.  This policyholder advocate certainly plans to continue to pound the drum, sound the warning bell, and reveal the truth.  After all, giving policyholders a voice by telling their stories publicly seems to be having an impact.

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July 05, 2016

SHEDDING LIGHT ON THE DARK SIDE OF MANAGED REPAIR

Published by AAPIA on July 5, 2016 http://www.aapia.org/aggregator/sources/2

A shroud of darkness is falling across Florida homeowner’s property insurance claims as the shadow of Managed Repair programs grows. These programs permit insurers to take over homeowner’s claims, repair on whatever scopes they like, cutting homeowners out of their own home restoration.  And, as predicted, Citizens’ Property Insurance Company is joining those insurers’ luring scores of unsuspecting Florida homeowners to opt-in to Managed Repair programs. See, Citizens negotiating managed repair program, Ron Hurtibuse, Sun Sentinel, April 19, 2016; http://www.sun-sentinel.com/business/consumer/fl-citizens-contractor-referral-service-update-20160419-story.html.  This humble policyholder advocate believes it is time to shed some light on the dark side of Managed Repair.  Homeowners should be made aware of what is actually happening inside these misleading programs,  so they can make educated choices and  keep control over the restoration of their own homes for the safety and security of their families.

     Light Shed on the Dark Side of Managed Repair in West Palm Beach Area

On June 21, 2016, WPTV News aired a story about Florida Peninsula Insurance Company’s botched Managed Repair of Judy Ruddy’s home.  Ruddy, a once unsuspecting and faithfully paying insured, has experienced first-hand the dark side of Managed Repair.  Click here to see WPTV the story.  Not surprisingly the story notes that complaints to the Office of Insurance Regulation show Ruddy is not alone.

     Light Shed on the Dark Side of Managed Repair in Fort Myers Area

Similarly, on June 23, 2016, WINK News aired the story of the managed repair nightmares of two families in the Fort Myers area. They had dark side experiences of their own with, respectively, Tower Hill Prime Insurance Company and Peoples’ Trust Insurance Company. Click here to see the WINK story on the Campbells and the Willekes.  Pay attention Florida homeowners or you will find that your once in a lifetime homeowner’s insurance claim is not your claim at all.

Notably, in the WINK story the industry response to the problems with Managed Repair was to dodge the question entirely and point the finger at AOB (“Assignment of Benefits”) contractors.  Insurers claim the reason they must “assign” homeowners’ claims back to themselves is so homeowners cannot assign them to a handful of unscrupulous contractors. Remarkably ironic given their own serious conflict of interest in using  their often times affiliated contractors through Managed Repair. Put another way, Insurers response to botched Managed Repair jobs is well, “since we cannot beat them; we’ll just beat them to the punch.”  See, Homeowners, Hostages In a Hostile Claims Environment, published June 1, 2016

Still again, the question is what is the answer?  The answer has always been the same – not simple – but true.  Policyholders must unite to bring balance to the force pushing back the darkness in favor of the light.  Homeowners, not insurers or contractors, should control the restoration of their homes after a covered loss.  Policyholders in New York figured this out and now legislation is pending to restrict Insurers from requiring the use of any particular contractor, requiring disclosure of any affiliation with any recommended contractor, and prohibiting Insurers from making recommendations, except in circumstances where the Insured has made a request for a recommendation.
https://legiscan.com/NY/research/A03212/2015

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