IHPA Forms Consumer Safety Task Force for Hurricane Protection Products
LANTANA, Fla., Dec. 22 /PRNewswire/ -- Bill Feeley, President of the
International Hurricane Protection Association (IHPA), has announced the
formation of the Consumer Safety Task Force for Hurricane Protection Products,
intended to act in unison with the Florida Attorney General's office to
protect consumers who have been, and are being subjected to deceptive or
misleading trade practices by unscrupulous hurricane profiteers.
"The IHPA and the Attorney General of Florida have been made aware of a
continued increase in advertising and marketing misleading consumers into
buying products that do not meet the Florida Building Code (FBC) requirements
for hurricane protection," Feeley said. "The difference in choosing approved
or non-approved Hurricane protection systems can dramatically affect the
survival of a home and its contents and in some cases can be a life or death
decision. This type of deceptive trade practice needs to stop and the
companies profiting from this should be held accountable."
Feeley continued, "Florida is an attractive target for deceptive schemes
due to our high exposure to hurricanes, large retired population, and constant
influx of new residents. This creates an opportunity for deceptive and
misleading profiteers playing on the worries and fears of consumers who may
have never experienced, or understand, the potential for damage to homes or
property associated with strong wind storms."
Holding up a newspaper advertisement from a Sarasota company advertising
"Hurricane Window Film," Feeley said, "This is incredibly dangerous. A
consumer sees this in their newspaper and believes that it must be legitimate.
Unfortunately, consumers are purchasing these products in good faith thinking
they are protecting their homes and families."
It is estimated the deceptive practice of selling window film as hurricane
protection to consumers in the state of Florida alone, runs in the tens of
millions of dollars. Feeley cited a statement from the International Window
Film Association (IWFA) website, a worldwide window film industry trade
association addressing this type of advertising; "Statements such as
"hurricane proof" or "meets Dade County standards" are, at best, misleading to
the public or, at worst, fraudulent."
Feeley was quick to point out, "'Hurricane Window Film' advertising
schemes, though widespread, are not the only unapproved hurricane protection
products being advertised this way."
The IHPA lists several simple guidelines that consumers can follow to
better protect themselves before entering into a contract:
-- Does the product have an approval number issued by the Florida
Building Commission or the Miami-Dade Building Code Compliance Office?
-- Is the Contractor licensed and able to pull a permit for the
installation of the product? Currently, most jurisdictions require a building
permit be issued for the installation of impact resistant coverings or impact
resistant glazing (glass). After March 1, 2009, building permits and
inspections will be required for the installation of required impact resistant
-- Does your insurance carrier accept the product as hurricane
protection? According to the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation (Form OIR
B1-1802) and Citizens Insurance Company (Form WBDR 1802-01-09); after-market
installed window films are rated the same as having no protection at all
(None). Systems that do not meet the FBC or Miami-Dade Approvals are also
rated as "None."
"Unfortunately, many consumers are not aware they have been deceived until
they contact their insurance company for a discount or, have a qualified
inspection and receive the form that is required to apply for windstorm
credits or meet new renewal requirements from Citizens," Feeley said.
Any consumers who believe they have been mislead by a company or have
purchased window film as hurricane protection on their home should contact the
Attorney General of Florida's Fraud Hotline at 1-866-966-7226. Out of state
call 1-850-414-3990. Consumers may also file complaints on the Attorney
General of Florida's website at http://www.myfloridalegal.com. Consumers who
think they are being unfairly denied discounts for hurricane protection
products or have more questions about windstorm discounts should contact the
Florida Department of Financial Services at 1-877-693-5236.
About the International Hurricane Protection Association
The IHPA is a non-profit organization with a membership of over 200
manufacturers, suppliers, contractors and government agencies providing
quality hurricane protection systems, information, and education to insure the
publics' welfare and safety, therefore minimizing the loss of life and the
destruction of property associated with hurricanes.
For more information, go to their website at http://www.inthpa.com
SOURCE International Hurricane Protection Association
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