Emphasizing the difference between prohibiting speech about legal practices and rendering the practices illegal, CCL today challenged a new Florida law that prohibited roofing contractors from encouraging or inducing Florida homeowners from filing an insurance claim on their existing policies. 

     Strangely, Florida's Department of Financial Services recommends that consumers first talk to a contractor, receive an estimate, and then contact their insurer, if the cost exceeds any deductible on the homeowner's policy by a sufficient amount. The lawsuit challenges that provision on First Amendment grounds, but also challenges other provisions of the new statute, due to go into effect July 1.

      Among its other provisions, the law prohibits contractors from inducing an insurance claim by informing homeowners of their right to assign the benefits of the insurance policy to the contractor. Assignment of benefits is a standard practice that the Florida courts have held cannot be denied by insurers, even if written into its contract with policyholders. The prohibited advertising practices cover the contractors' websites, so that those that are part of a multi-state company would, under the law, have to expunge information about working with the insurers on behalf of the policyholders so that homeowners do not have to front the costs of remediation and repair.

     Violations of the new rules can result in disciplinary action that includes suspension or loss of a contracting license, and fines of up to $10,000 per violation. 

     The case challenging the new law was filed on behalf of the Restoration Association of Florida, whose 300 members work in the repair and remediation industry, as well as Apex Roofing and Restoration, the largest roofing repair company in the Southeast, and a client of Apex roofing.