The deadline for thousands of Florida homeowners to decide whether they want to remain insured with Citizens Property Insurance Corp. or not has arrived and over 150,000 of them could be dropped by the state-run insurance company onto private carriers starting Tuesday, November 6, 2012. These policyholders had received last month offers from private insurers giving them a choice to opt out and stay with Citizens or become part of those private insurers' portfolios.
Why Leave Citizens?
According to miamiherald.com, the incentive for homeowners to accept the offers from these private insurers is to escape Citizens' continued rate and deductible hikes, home re-inspections, coverage cutbacks and tougher eligibility requirements. It is believed that those who chose to leave Citizens will see lower rates, at least initially.
However, since the five private companies participating in the program are all much smaller, undercapitalized companies, experts predict that most of these lower rates will go up when the policies renew. The five companies participating in the program are: Florida Peninsula, American Integrity, Homeowners Choice, Southern Oak, and Southern Fidelity Property & Casualty.
Homeowners that decided to opt-out should have sent the opt-out letter they received or visit their agents and express their desires. Yet, it is important to note that if they failed to do so within the allotted 30 days, they will still be able to opt-out and stay with Citizens for the first 30 days after they are taken over by the new company.
More Take Outs To Come
This large takeout is part of an aggressive plan intended to reduce risk and possible financial liability for taxpayers should a catastrophic storm season drain the money available to state-run Citizens to pay for damages. In fact, more take outs are on the way: On December 4, Citizens will shed 53,000 more policies, some of which could include policyholders that opted out during the first take out.
Tips For Homeowners With Damages From Windstorms
Following are very important tips we would like to offer to our readers on the steps they should follow should their homes or other property suffer damages in any storm:
- Take pictures of the damaged property before you make repairs.
- Begin to make temporary repairs to prevent further damage to your home or property. Keep a record of time spent and all receipts for work done on your property. You have a duty to mitigate damages under the terms of your insurance policy.
- Take pictures of any mitigation steps you have taken such as placing tarps on your roofs or covering broken windows or doors.
- Remove tree debris from the structure and place it on the ground.
- If your power is out, unplug any small electrical items and electronics to prevent electrical spike damage.
- Secure replacement costs/estimates from local retailers of like kind, quality and features. Obtain statements from vendors on items that cannot be repaired.
- Do not dispose of any damaged contents until authorized by your agent or claim representative.
- Contact only reputable, licensed vendors for repair estimates. Have estimates signed by the vendor and approved by your adjuster or agent before having major damage repaired.
- Inventory your damaged personal possessions such as furniture, clothing, art, collectables, etc. If a damaged item is a collectable or artwork, try to establish its current value.
- Contact the Law Offices of Greenberg, Stone & Urbano, P.A. immediately after the storm so that we can send our loss consultant to inspect your property and help you prepare the documents in support of your claim.
The Lawyers of Greenberg, Stone & Urbano, P.A. Can Help
You should always have an attorney help you review your policy and advise you on what coverage you should have and for how much. If you are about to renew your policy (with the same insurer or a new one), we can help you review it and make sure you are adequately covered and in a position to avoid costly expenses should disaster strike.
Moreover, please note that if your home has already sustained damages, our team of loss consultants, paralegals, and attorneys will assist you in every aspect of your claim. Our loss consultant will even go to your home to evaluate the damage you sustained at no cost or obligation to you. Contact us today for a free inspection by our loss consultant.
With more than 75 years of combined experience, the Miami Dade County Homeowners Insurance Claims Law Offices of Greenberg, Stone & Urbano, P.A. have helped thousands of Homeowners all over Florida review their policies, present their claims and get the compensation owed them by their insurance carrier. Visit our website to learn more about our firm and contact us today for a free consultation.