A construction company located in Hillsborough County, Gale Force Roofing and Restoration, LLC, challenged the new property insurance law in Florida that took effect on July 1st.
The case, filed in June and reviewed by Chief U.S. District Judge Mark Walker on Friday, argues that a section of the new law (SB 76) violates the company’s first amendment rights by prohibiting them from certain advertisements that encourage homeowners to file roof-damage insurance claims.
As stated in the law, “prohibited advertisement” means any written or electronic communication by a contractor that encourages, instructs, or induces a consumer to contact a contractor or public adjuster for the purpose of making an insurance claim for roof damage. Gale Force, specializing in roof repair and restoration specifically, advertise to homeowners for storm damage inspections for their roofs.
The law then states that prohibited forms of written and electronic communication include but are not limited to, door hangers, business cards, magnets, flyers, pamphlets, e-mails, and telephone calls. However, while the law list such advertisements, they are only prohibited if they are “directed to a specific person,” meaning generalized advertisements like radio and television are acceptable under the new law.
Lawmakers and the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation Secretary Julie Brown, the defendant in the case, argue that the law is in place to combat rising insurance rates that are due to the increasing number of unnecessary roof-damage claims that insurance companies are forced to pay. According to Florida Insurance Commissioner David Altamaier, “SB 76 takes important steps to address the unique challenges facing the Florida property insurance market, address cost drivers within the market, and help stabilize rates for consumers.”
Florida Senate President, Wilton Simpson elaborated on this notion by saying, “Florida has become a beacon for companies who canvass neighborhoods creating roofing claims that would not otherwise be filed, driving up the cost of insurance for everyone. To mitigate these rising premiums, this legislation prohibits predatory roofing advertisement to prevent the abuse of fraudulent claims by contractors trying to take advantage of homeowners.”
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