First, as reported in previous posts, Citizens dramatically raised both premiums and deductibles trying to prompt those who cannot afford them to move onto the private insurance market. Now, Citizens is just forcefully moving 210,000 of the 1.4 million homeowners’ policies it has onto private insurance carriers.
The Letter is in The Mail
According to abcactionnews.com, starting October 1st, 2012, some 210,000 policyholders will start receiving letters from Citizens Property Insurance Corporation informing them that some private insurance carrier has bought out their policies. The homeowner has then 30 days to decide whether to reject the change and stay with Citizens or accept being insured by the private carrier. Should the homeowner fail to respond to the letter within the allotted 30 days, Citizens will assume that the homeowner has agreed to the change and the private carrier will start handling the new policy from November 6 on.
The decision to remove these 210,000 policies (about one fifth of the 1.4 million policies underwritten by the company) from the Citizens umbrella was made by the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation and follows a number of premium rates and deductible increases intended to “dissuade” policyholders to seek insurance elsewhere. The reason? State regulators fear that despite the record $6.2 billion accumulated in the company’s coffers thanks to a benevolent few years (since Wilma in 2005) without a significant number of claims for hurricane damages and continued increases of premium rates, the company may not be able to handle a catastrophic hurricane season, in which case the state (i.e., the people) would have to assume the losses.
The hope is that many will decide to stay with the new private insurance companies because their rates are expected to be lower than those from Citizens. However, Bill Newton, executive director of Consumer Action Network, a non-profit watchdog organization, urges policyholders to check their new policies and make sure the premiums are lower than those offered by Citizens before deciding not to respond within the 30 days they have. Nevertheless, even if the first year rates are lower than those offered by Citizens, consumers can still get hit with higher rates upon renewal, at which time their new carriers may set their rates at whatever rates the state has set for the particular company.
The Lawyers of Greenberg Stone and Urbano 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 and Urbano 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.