PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — When purchasing homeowner's insurance, do you ever look at the fine print?
Are you aware many companies use a policy called "the right to repair," something that puts control completely in their hands?
"It's a disaster."
That's how Lisa Kornheisl described her home in early March.
"We thought it was dirt."
Kornheisl is talking about dirt, that started in a small corner on the outside of the kitchen island and became something much bigger.
"It's all in the wall (of the island), it's leaked from underneath here."
Legally blind, and with three kids, Lisa Kornheisl says she had enough to handle before the dishwasher broke, again.
Lisa says her insurance company told her they had fixed that same dishwasher leak 2 years ago.
"If we had known that this could happen again, we would have bought a brand new dishwasher. We're paying a lot of money," says Kornheisl.
But the Kornheisls didn't have that choice then, on how the leak was fixed, because their insurance company, Edison Insurance, has a policy called "the right to repair."
Contact 5 asked Lisa if she was aware of how that worked. She said, "we just knew, sign with the insurance company so god forbid there's a hurricane, we're covered."
The right to repair means the insurance company gets to decide what kind of damages there are, who fixes those damages and how those damages are fixed.
"It's basically making the insurance company more like a repair company versus paying you for damages," says public adjuster Guy Cohen, who is now helping Lisa.
"The insured doesn't have the option to choose who he wants to fix his house," says Cohen.
This time around, with this specific claim, Edison Insurance tells Contact 5 they didn't invoke the right to repair (their managed repair program) "but instead obtained an estimate from a licensed mold remediation company on its preferred vendor list, which Ms. Kornheisl was not obligated to hire."
They said they also wrote a check to Lisa.
But under the managed repair clause, they could have. The right to repair clause gives them sole control and decision power.
MORE COMPANIES ADOPTING RIGHT TO REPAIR
Edison Insurance tells Contact 5, "Every single policy of ours has a Right to Repair clause as do most all Florida homeowners insurance policies."
A list of those companies that have this right to repair clause is in a box at the end of the article.
Public Adjuster Guy Cohen says check your policy now.
"Call your agent, you do not have to go with the right to repair policy," says Cohen. His website offers help on what to look out for, found at this link.
Or you could end up like Lisa, her husband and her three children., living in hotels for the last 6 weeks, in some cases the room too small.
"My son couldn't even have a cot in the room. He ended up sleeping in a desk chair for three weeks."
Still better Lisa says, than putting her children at risk.
"My son has asthma, he is wheezing. I want to be able to be safe in my own home and not have my kids be sick."
Here is a list of companies that have adopted the rights to repair program.
- People's Trust Insurance
- Avatar ; Also knows as Elements Property and Casualty
- Florida Peninsula ; Also known as Edison Insurance
- Safepoint Insurance (they have just recently adopted R.T.R )
- Citizens Insurance (they adopted R.T.R as of August 2018)
- There is also *Heritage Insurance Company but this is on some policies since its an option for homeowners.
Here is the full original statement from Edison Insurance.
Edison Insurance Company had a claim with the Kornheisl family resulting from a kitchen appliance leak. The claim was subsequently adjusted and a check was issued at the end of February to make repairs and conduct mold clean-up. Policyholder also received temporary housing assistance from Edison to move out of the home during the mold remediation and repair process. In this instance, Edison Insurance Company chose not to send this claim to managed repair but instead obtained an estimate from a licensed mold remediation company on its preferred vendor list, which Ms. Kornheisl was not obligated to hire. We value the trust our policyholders place in Edison Insurance and take our responsibility to assist them in their time.