Insurance fraud in Florida is causing your homeowner’s insurance rates to climb

Published: March 16, 2022 10:01 PM EDT
Updated: April 8, 2022 10:13 AM EDT

A duo was arrested for a roofing scheme targeting people after Hurricane Irma. They are accused of promising people a new roof without having to pay a deductible if they submit a full roof replacement claim to their insurance company.

This kind of fraud, experts say, is driving up insurance rates for everyone in Florida.

The Insurance Information Institute said that Florida homeowners pay more than double what the national average is for their home insurance premiums. They said rampant fraud across the state is a major reason why.

Brian Webb and Brandon Jourdan (Credit: Lee County Sheriff’s Office)

Florida’s Chief Financial Officer announced the arrests of Brian Webb and Brandon Jourdan of Webb Roofing and Construction. The men are charged with nine counts of fraud and are accused of promising homeowners new roofs with no deductible as long as the homeowner submitted a full roof replacement claim to their insurance company, and signed over insurance claim rights to Webb Roofing and Construction.

“It appears it’s very questionable that these were legitimate roofing claims. And once again, that’s what we’re seeing across the state,” said Mark Friedlander, a spokesperson for the Insurance Information Institute.

The arrest announcement said the two men who were arrested told homeowners to claim that Hurricane Irma allegedly damaged their roofs. Friedlander said in many cases, fraudulent claims are made for roofs that have normal wear and tear, something not covered by the policy.

“I’ve seen some that say, ‘we just got your neighbor a $35,000 roof, and it didn’t cost them anything. And we can do the same for you.’ So, they’re boasting these fraudulent schemes, and they’re charging insurers much more than what it would cost if it was a legitimate roof claim,” said Friedlander.

Costing home insurance companies a lot more money, and Friedlander said insurers also take a significant financial hit fighting the claims in court.

“We are now seeing Florida insurers folding. Two Florida property insurers have been ruled insolvent in just the last 21 days. There are another five insurers that may be heading in that direction according to information that the insurance information institute has received,” said Friedlander.

Friedlander says fewer insurance companies are offering homeowners policies in the state as a result, and the ones continuing to do so are passing those additional costs onto you. “In 2021, over 116,000 lawsuits were filed against Florida property insurers. In every other state, and we just analyzed this data. In every other state, there was no more than 900 property claim lawsuits filed. 116,000 in Florida. 900 was the max in any other state,” said Friedlander.

WINK News reached out to Webb Roofing and Construction for a comment but have not heard back.

If convicted, Florida’s Chief Financial Officer said both men could face up to $45,000 in fines and up to 45-years in prison.