Florida AG Calls Hurricane Films a Scam; Are They?

July 24th, 2013 by Editor

Florida attorney general Pam Bondi, recently claimed companies encouraging consumers to install hurricane-resistant films as hurricane protection are running a scam, but are they really?

In a recent statement, Bondi says, “As homeowners prepare for hurricane season, they should be cautious when purchasing window films that claim to safeguard their homes from hurricanes. The Florida Building Commission must give approval before a company can advertise its product as a form of hurricane protection, and they have not approved window films for this use.”

In the same statement from the attorney general, the office says, “In order for the Florida Building Commission to approve a product designed for a window, the product must be part of the complete window system and assembly, and window films do not meet that requirement. Anyone who advertises, sells, offers, provides, distributes, or markets a product as hurricane, windstorm, or impact protection from wind-borne debris without such approval is in violation of the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act.”

At the end of statement, the attorney general urges consumers to report any businesses making “fraudulent” claims about window film and hurricane protection.

Just how “fraudulent” are the claims that window films can offer protection against hurricanes?

“I think it’s wrong and the law is short-changing the public because window film still provides a lot of protection in the event of a windstorm or broken window,” says Kevin Millard, president of Accent Distributing in Sarasota, Fla. “Not every customer can afford to buy a piece of steel to place in front of every single window. Sometimes they’re told they can’t put a piece of steel there because of condominium association—that’s very prevalent here in Florida—and homeowner’s association concerns who say we don’t want shutters on our windows. Now we’ve handcuffed those condominium owners. They can’t have it even if they have the money for it.”

Florida HB 849, which went into effect July 1, 2011, made it a violation of the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act, to advertise, sell, offer, provide, distribute or market any product as hurricane, windstorm or impact-resistant unless it is in compliance with the provisions for product approval in the Florida Building Code which includes window film.

“The hurricane laws really did impact [business] and, personally, it’s too much of an impact,” says Millard. “When the shutter company organization got that law passed that said we can no longer advertise windstorm protection for window film, I actually think that’s an injustice to all of our potential customers. It did affect [the industry] and it hurt it and now we’ve stopped promoting it for windstorm protection.”

“Safety/security window films applied to glass are tested to the same break-safe standards required of tempered glass, heat-strengthened glass, and laminated glass. Window film manufacturers have copies of the actual laboratory test reports validating that their products do, in fact, meet specific impact testing,” says Darrell Smith, executive director for the International Window Film Association. “Upon repeated impacts to the same area, films can begin to tear due to the edges of the broken glass fragments penetrating the thickness of the film. This means that, in general, although films can help greatly by reducing glass hazards upon initial impact, with repeated impacts they may not continue to perform as well.”

“Window film offers a good deal of protection. It’s not as much as a storm shutter, but it’s something they can do,” says Millard. “From a cost point of view, there are a lot of younger families with a competition for dollars … they would still like to provide as much protection as possible for their families. Maybe they can’t afford storm shutters but [film] is something they can afford. I like the benefits of window film in addition to storm protection. Security films have suffered in Florida. Personally, I hate to see that happen because there are a lot of benefits to safety and security window films.”

What do you think about the hurricane laws and the attorney general’s comments? Email the editor at cneeley@glass.com or post your thoughts below.

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  1. I think this lady should stick to law as her statement in unjust in my opinion.

    I have been involved in testing safety film applied to glass for over forty years . Fact….. Safety window film has proved itself over and over again in real live disasters

    Fact…..When film is applied to glass it hold the glass together for longer periods of time when subjected to huge pressures. Fact……. It also saves lives as one does not have thousands of shards flying around injuring people and causing damage to property

    Leon Levy klingshield South Africa.

  2. I think this is the least of our worries !As of July 1 florida’s workers comp changed commercial/residential window tint installation classification code putting all of them under construction code#05491 . Now this will change how we all do business

  3. The new Law is just and deserving. Window film does not work for residential applications when put through the full battery of required tests. Just because it may make it through one test does not mean it passes any where near all of the necessary criteria. When left unchecked, the window film industry will resort to exaggerated claims for protection in order to make sales. Thus leaving the persons who purchased said film, with a false sense of security and wasted money, while thinking that they saved money. This was the driving force behind the new Law – no test approvals and exaggerated claims. If something is better than nothing then try masking tape for a similar result and it is much less costly. By the way, there is a State Law that prohibits any condo or homeowner association from denying its inhabitants from putting up hurricane protection. The Association can only dictate the style and color. Life safety is at stake here and there is no room for pretenders! The automobile industry instituted seat belts as a safety item. Now they have incorporated air bags and anti-lock brakes. Why? Life Safety!

  4. I am reminded of the officer that stops a driver for running a stop sign. When the drives professes that they came very close or almost stopped, the officer begins repeatedly hitting them with his night stick asking do you want me to almost stop, come close to stopping, or stop?

    Using Duct tape, rope or Velcro straps to hold yourself or your child into a car seat is probably better than no seat belt at all but seat belts and child seats are a tested and approved restraint system designed to meet the MINIMUM life safety requirements for driver/passenger protection. The same is true of the International and Florida Building Code requirements for windborne debris protection, these are MINIMUM life safety requirements (lowest quality you can legally build or sell to consumers).

    The problem with the statement “better than nothing” OR “offers some degree of protection” is that it is a arbitrary and misleading statement designed to “qualify ” or “market” a product that is less than desirable. When it comes to life safety government regulators and laws are there to protect consumers from misleading and opportunistic dealers selling them products that fail to meet the MINIMUM requirements for life safety. Certainly we are all aware of product recalls and class actions associated with products that fail to perform as advertised or fail to meet minimum safety standards. Picture yourself on the witness stand using the defense of “it was better than nothing”…..

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