Under Florida law, insurance carriers are responsible for paying the cost required to match materials when repairs are made. Meaning, to the extent possible, your insurer must pay for repairs and replacements necessary to maintain uniformity so that the repairs don't look likean obvious patchwork of old and new materials. However, insurance companies are always looking for creative ways to minimize their responsibility. Limiting their obligation to pay for matching, through a policy endorsement, appears to be their most recent tactic. Here's what you need to know about matching and how insurance companies are working to limit their obligation to pay for matching.
Florida Law on Matching
If your policy provides for replacement cost value, which most policies do, as opposed to actual cash value, your insurance company is obligated to pay the cost to repair your damaged property with material of like kind and quality to restore it to its pre-loss condition. Actual cash value, on the other hand, is simply the value of only the property that was damaged, and the property is depreciated—explained further here—due to its age and/or use. When replacement cost value repairs will require replacing items that do not match in quality, color, or size (very common in roofing, siding, flooring), Fla. Stat. 626.9744(2) requires the insurer to make reasonable repair or replacement of undamaged items in adjoining areas, i.e., matching. In determining how much matching is required, the insurer may consider the cost to replace the undamaged portions, the degree of uniformity that can be achieved, and the remaining useful life of the undamaged property. This can become a real point of contention if the damaged materials (think siding, shingles, tiles, etc.) have been discontinued, making it virtually impossible to properly match and would result in an obvious aesthetic deficit due to a clear difference in the appearance of the old and new materials.
When Matching Must be Paid
Insurance companies are not fans of matching because it can lead to a domino effect requiring extensive, expensive tear-out and replacement of undamaged materials to reach a uniform result. To fight it, they argue that replacement with “similar” materials or “like kind” does not mean matching exactly. Insurance companies also obtained a favorable ruling from Florida's Third District Court of Appeal in 2020 in Vazquez v. Citizensstating matching costs do not have to be paid until after the work is performed. This puts a harsh burden on the homeowner requiring her to pay upfront, out-of-pocket to make expensive repairs to restore the aesthetic appeal of her home and then seek reimbursement from her insurance company for those costs after the work is complete. The problem is: many homeowners don't have enough excess cash to pay for such extensive repairs out-of-pocket to achieve matching; they need their insurance company to give them the money they are owed first so they can make any repairs.
New Policy Endorsements Reduce Matching to 1% of the Applicable Coverage Limit
In addition to the victory in Vazquez that delayed an insurer's timeframe for paying matching, recently insurers have been adding an endorsement to policies that limits the amount they have to pay for matching costs. In early 2022, a number of insurers filed a matching limitation endorsement with Florida's Office of Insurance Regulation and obtained approval to add the endorsement to their policies. These limiting endorsements reduce the insurer's obligation to pay for matching to 1% of the limit of liability for the applicable coverage (typically Coverage A – Dwelling, and sometimes Coverage B – Other Structures).
This would mean for a home with a $300,000 limit on Coverage A, if the roof sustains damage, requiring an entire roof replacement because the roof shingles or tiles have been discontinued, the insurance company will only be required to pay $3,000 (1%) toward matching. For example, if the matching cost—meaning, the cost over and above that required to simply do a patch job by removing the undamaged roof shingles or tiles and replacing the entire roof to reach an aesthetically pleasing result—is $50,000, the insurance company's obligation to pay that amount is limited to $3,000, leaving the homeowner to cover the remaining $47,000 required to achieve matching. This could leave many homeowners with the difficult decision of accepting an ugly patch job or incurring extensive debt, if they are able, to restore the aesthetic of their home.
Know Whether Your Policy Limits Matching
This matching limitation endorsement is becoming more popular among insurance companies. To know whether your insurance company will be responsible to pay all your matching costs, be sure to check your coverages, not just the premium, and read all of your policy endorsements. If your policy does have a matching limitation endorsement, you might have to pay out of your own pocket to avoid your home looking like a patchwork of different materials. If your insurance company has offered you any “discounts” in exchange for certain policy endorsements or limitations, be sure you understand what rights you may be giving up in exchange for the discount. If you do not understand your policy or have questions about your coverages, the best time to ask and learn is before a storm or damage occurs. Never hesitate to contact us at any time with any question about your insurance coverage. We never require any fee, cost, or obligation to simply talk about your coverage and make sure you understand your policy and your rights.