Using the ranch-style, $165,000 home as an example of the average dwelling
covered by Citizens Property Insurance Corp. in the counties of its highest risk
to wind damage—Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade—Westcott called for lawmakers
to focus on helping consumers keep roofs on their homes as a viable defense
against the looming losses Floridians would be assessed if a Sandy-size storm
hit the Sunshine State.
As the state's largest property insurance carrier, Florida law requires
taxpayers cover any shortfall at state-backed Citizens.
The Broward home illustrated the striking difference between the market value of
the average home in Citizens' coastal portfolio and the cost to rebuild. While
the market value has held steady over the years, the cost to replace the home
could run total nearly double that figure.
"We're not talking about $1million, $2 million homes on the coast," said
Westcott. "Many times there's a very unfair characterization that we are
supporting very wealthy people on the beach."
The so-called "mitigation" approach described by Westcott, could leverage
Citizens' $300 million in reserves to fund defensive approaches, such as
shutters and new, custom-fitted canvas technologies. For about $2,000 to $3,000
for a home similar to the Broward example, research shows such enhancements
would prevent the high winds that enter homes through doors, windows and over
openings, making them far less susceptible to losing their roofs, Westcott said.
"We all keep talking about premiums. We all keep talking about rates and the
affect [of risk] on rates, but we're only treating symptoms. The problem is
exposure to a castrophe by a hurricane," Westcott said.