Citizens Property Insurance Company should devote more time and resources to education, training, and properly and promptly handling property insurance damage claims instead of hiring teams of lawyers “experts”. Citizens wants to avoid paying for covered damages in the homeowners policies by any means necessary. In related news, for three years, Citizens has been depopulating. Sending and shipping off the policyholders to other “brand new” and “financially new” insurance companies so it won’t be so exposed to so many homes when a hurricane hits. But now Citizens says it doesn’t have enough money in the bank and it is raising rates again.
Ten years after Hurricane Wilma
It has been ten years since a hurricane affected Florida and yet Citizens keeps raising its rates and showing the public it is doing an incredibly poor job with claims and financials. Well, now it is yelling from the roof tops it is in a claims crisis. How can this be? Citizens says it has only had a 5% increase in water claims and yet they call that a crisis. The State of Florida is filled with homeowners paying premiums and every homeowner pays an additional surcharges to the company (even if not insured with Citizens) just to make sure it can handle the potential of multiple hurricane claims in a single year, but now the corporation is panicked about pipe break claims in one or two counties. I smell a rat and I am not alone.
As reported in the Tampa Bay Business Journal, “[t]he Citizens Board of Governors on Wednesday unanimously agreed to move forward with the changes involving how water-damage claims are handled.”1
Be on the lookout for policies that again strip away coverage for your home. The corporation doesn’t want to pay for pipes that burst or property that gets damaged in your home. This comes after Citizens already attempted to strip coverage for water damage hidden in your walls from a pipe break and excluded damage to your carports from a hurricane or falling tree.
Sun Sentinel columnist, Michael Mayo, evaluated the reported increased water claims and reported:
I think Citizens is spinning hard and the reality is more nuanced.
Bottom line: Water claims in South Florida have dropped in the last two years (from 22,202 in 2012 to 9,293 in 2014). But last year’s cost ($200 million) looks high because the total includes claims from previous years that were settled in 2014. And the sharp drop in Citizens customers means the per-policy payout average increases dramatically.
This post from September let us know what was on the horizon: Reduced Coverage and High Premiums for Floridians…Again.
In October, the Tampa Bay Times reported that “Even if Florida gets blasted by four hurricanes in one season as it did a decade ago, 67 Florida-based insurance companies tested by the state have enough of a financial cushion to handle the damage…” Check out Report shows that Florida Based Insurance Companies are Strong.
These reports make it clear that Citizens policyholders are in real trouble when the next hurricane comes ashore. So the question is where did Citizens put the money?
1 http://www.bizjournals.com/tampabay/blog/morning-edition/2015/12/citizens-insurance-seeks-changes-for-water-claims.html (last accessed on Dec. 12, 2015).