If the damage your home sustained from Hurricane Sally has not yet been repaired, the answer is “No”—by way of an Emergency Order that was issued by the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation after Hurricane Sally. However, many homeowners may not know this, and we have seen several carriers who have tried to non-renew their insured's policy in violation of this Order. Read on to learn about this important Emergency Order, your rights, and what to do if your Hurricane Sally insurance carrier attempts to wrongfully non-renew.
What Does Non-Renewal Mean?
Many insurance carriers along the Gulf Coast were financially drained by Hurricane Michael and Sally claims, causing a number of them to stop writing policies on the coast altogether. Some were even forced into receivership, which is essentially a form of bankruptcy for an insurance company. For this reason, many insurance companies facing a large hurricane claim are not as inclined to renew the policy the following period, which can sometimes run just months after a hurricane strikes. As many of you who suffered damage from Hurricane Sally know, it can take months to simply determine what all damage you sustained, much less get an accurate estimate or find a competent contractor available to perform the repairs. If an insurance company was able to non-renew while a hurricane-damaged home was still in the process of being repaired, this would put many Panhandle homeowners in dire financial strain, with their property uninsured and their options for finding replacement insurance seemingly impossible or, at the very least, only available for an exorbitantly higher premium. To prevent this crisis, the Commissioner for the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation (“FLOIR”) issued an Emergency Order to prevent insurance carriers with open Hurricane Sally claims from non-renewing.
What Did the Hurricane Sally Emergency Order Do?
On October 30, 2020, in light of the state of emergency created by Hurricane Sally in Escambia County, the FLOIR issued an Emergency Order. The primary purpose of this Order was to prevent insurance carriers who insured homes damaged by Hurricane Sally from non-renewing before the homes they insured were repaired. Pursuant to Fla. Stat. § 627.4133, an insurance company may not cancel or non-renew a residential or commercial policy for property that was damaged by a hurricane until the hurricane damage has been repaired and for a period of ninety (90) days following completion of the hurricane repairs. The only exceptions to this rule, as stated in the statute, occur when a homeowner fails to pay the insurance premium, makes a material misstatement relating to the claim, or causes an unreasonable in the repairs, or the insurance company has paid the policy limit. The goal of the Hurricane Sally Emergency Order was to protect homeowners who were already suffering financially while trying to get their home repaired from facing even further strain in the form of cancellation or non-renewal of their current insurance coverage. Pursuant to the first paragraph of the Emergency Order, it applies to all property and casualty insurers, premium finance companies, as well as surplus lines insurers.
You can read a copy of the Hurricane Sally Emergency Order here.
What Should You Do If Your Hurricane Sally Insurance Carrier Tries to Non-Renew?
First, know that you have rights. The FLOIR issued the Emergency Order specifically with your rights in mind. Allowing insurance companies that have not yet issued the necessary funds to repair your home to cancel or non-renew before your hurricane repairs are complete would allow them to put millions of homeowners under severe financial strain. If your home was damaged by Hurricane Sally and has not yet been repaired and your insurance company has attempted to cancel your policy or has issued you a “Notice of Non-Renewal,” you should contact an experienced insurance attorney for assistance immediately. At Taylor, Warren, Weidner & Hancock, we never charge any fee or cost to discuss your insurance claim and the actions your insurance company has taken. You have questions. We want to give you answers, and we are here to help. Contact us.