Citizens South Florida Homeowners Insurance
Citizens South Florida Homeowners Insurance: Once Again Looking To Make Changes
As reported by the Sun-Sentinel on September 30, 2015, Citizens Insurance is once again looking to reduce coverage and the rights of policyholders in an effort to cut costs. Citizens is citing larger than average payouts on non-storm related water as the culprit.
Among others, Citizens is blaming the public adjusting community. According to a spokesperson for Citizens, they receive the first notice of loss in 4 out of every ten claims in South Florida someone other than the policyholder. It feels that advertising by public adjusters and attorneys are causing people to seek representation for their insurance claims rather than relying on Citizens. In Citizens’ view, this results in a higher frequency of claims and a higher average payout on claims. In other words, public adjusters are doing exactly what they are supposed to do: advocating for their clients to ensure they received the compensation they deserve, not just what Citizens’ thinks they should receive. Naturally, Citizens sees public adjusters and attorneys as the problem, so they are beefing up their efforts to level the playing field.
To accomplish this, Citizens is looking at a two-pronged approach to stem the tide and keep policyholders away from public adjustor representation that they are entitled to:
First, they are ramping up their marketing campaign called, “Call Citizens First,” to remind people that their first call should be to Citizens NOT to a public adjuster. This would put the claim process in Citizens hands to manage and help reduce the claim payout.
Second, they are looking for ways to force consumers to use only pre-approved insurance adjusters and contractors. This is a tactic utilized by other insurance companies in Florida and is commonly referred to as “right to repair.” On a side note, Citizens is slowly discontinuing their use of independent adjusters and using in-house staff adjusters instead.
According to the article in the Sun-Sentinel, “The company also is developing a list of approved contractors that would be recommended to policyholders who agree to “call Citizens first.” The contractors’ work would be warranted and guaranteed to be completed quickly.”
The company is even taking things a step further by giving premium discounts to those policyholders who agree not to call a public adjuster and use Citizens approved adjusters and contractors. This procedure worked well for Citizens when dealing with sinkhole claims in past years.
It does not seem that the insurance company is optimistic that this approach will bring them the long term results they desire. If that is the case, they will look to the Florida Legislature to try to make these changes mandatory under the law. Citizens President and CEO Barry Gilway, who is seeking to limit homeowner’s rights, was quoted as saying, “You need the ability to do this on a mandatory basis. So the heavy lifting will be getting agreement [from the legislature].”
Spokespeople for Citizens did go on to say that they feel that getting the legislators to agree to take away the rights of policyholders will be a tough fight.
It has become apparent that Citizens does not like the fact that homeowners have someone fighting for their interests. Florida policyholders deserve the right to choose, and Florida public adjusters have earned the right to work on the behalf of the policyholders to make sure they receive fair treatment from insurance companies. Public adjusters play a vital role by representing the rights of the policyholders. If legislation is passed in favor of Citizens, it will leave policyholders with no advocate on their side.
Public adjusters have an obligation to protect policyholders and themselves from these efforts. This issue is far from over. Keep a look out for more details that will be coming out of Citizens Board of Governors meeting in December.
With all the changes going on with insurance carriers, are you sure you have the correct insurance company protecting your most valuable asset? What about coverage? If you do not have the right amounts or inclusions you could find out the hard way that the insurance company will not be paying your claim. Don’t let this happen to you. Contact Broward Insurance, South Florida’s Best Insurance and get the answer! A few moments of your time will bring you the peace of mind need.