“Citizens Insurance, or Citizens, is the popular name for government established, not-for-profit insurers in Florida and Louisiana,” Wikipedia explains. “[Here in] Florida, the insurer is Citizens Property Insurance Corporation. In Louisiana, the insurer is the Louisiana Citizens Property Insurance Corporation. Both were established in their respective states as insurers of last resort…
“Neither of these is connected with for-profit insurers with similar names.”
Citizens is government-owned and, as other companies pull out of this market, not the insurer of last resort but the insurer of only resort for most of us.
JULY–After six years without a hurricane in Florida, Citizens had an cash surplus of about $6.1 billion. That’s about the same as the entire public debt of the nation of Honduras. As a matter of fact, it is more cash in hand than the national debt of several small African countries (Botswana, Gabon, Libya, Mali, Mozambique, Nanibia, Uganda, or Zambia).
Citizens is trying everything it can think of to move its policies into Florida’s private insurance market while hanging on to our money. The other insurers discussed what to do in a back room meeting in July: They want to require Citizens to pay the private companies billions of dollars to take over the policies, and they will raise premiums.
AUGUST–With customers complaining about getting hit with higher premiums, Citizens announced they will revise their inspection program aimed at raising rates^H^H^H “helping prevent wind damage to homes.”
NOVEMBER–The state-backed insurance programs have angered hundreds of thousands of policyholders. The outcry from consumers followed a mind-boggling $137 million in premium increases. More than 175,000 property owners have already seen their premiums skyrocket by an average of $810 after an inspection. (My premiums here had already risen over $1,000 — about 48% — from 2006 through 2011, before my own inspection.)
I paid Citizens almost $3,300 last year. I paid the same amount this year because that’s the figure on their invoice. That was incorrect, but we’ll get back to that.
Citizens hires local inspectors rather than send their own employees out. I had put the inspection off all summer because I wasn’t here but I couldn’t do it forever because their default position is “no inspection no ‘discounts'” for our previously known hurricane protections, so my rates would get even worse.
The inspector, a nice fellow named Jose, took pictures of the roof straps and a piece of painter’s tape on a rafter on which he had marked nail locations, the window shutters, the door covers, and the roof.
Jose told me that, after Hurricane Wilma, he repaired his own loss by replacing (not just overhauling) his roof. He did the work himself so he never pulled a building permit. Citizens dropped him because they claimed he had not done anything on the roof since 1992. It took Jose six months and a lawyer to get covered again.
He strongly recommended that I get a copy of the inspection report from Citizens.
I did check to see that Citizens had properly credited my premium check to the account, only to find they have bumped my rates to over FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS per year. And put me on a “payment plan” in which my three grand check was merely the first installment. Good to have a government-run insurer helping us.
I talked with my agent. Looks like Citizens took away a $1,400 deduction for roof strapping and shutters. I expect to get that back. Sometime. See, they have to process the inspection which will take another 30-45 days. Then deny it. Then argue with my agent. Then argue with my lawyer.
That all means my policy will go up “only” $500 no matter what.
Most Florida homeowners pay Citizens far more for windstorm insurance alone than they pay in property taxes.
If you truly believe Obamacare will help you, understand that Citizens is the face of government-run insurance.