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Insurance Consumer Advocate

Sha'Ron James


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Tallahassee, FL 32399-0308

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POINT OF VIEW: Citizens claims insurance managed repair a conflict

 

Date: June 25, 2017
Source: Palm Beach Post
Author:  Don Phillips

 

“Your home is your castle.” Few of us would permit a stranger to come into our homes and choose what kind of roof, floor tile, or carpeting we’ll have in our homes. Most people don’t realize that if your home is damaged in a fire, flood, hurricane or water loss, your insurance company may turn into that pushy stranger. What’s worse, if you don’t agree to let the pushy stranger make these decisions, your insurer won’t pay to fully repair the damage.

If that seems unfair, it’s because it is. The Florida Association of Public Insurance Adjusters (FAPIA) recognizes it would be a conflict of interest for public adjusters to act as both the contractor and adjuster on the same claim. Insurers must recognize it is a conflict of interest for their contractors to decide the scope of damages and repairs on a claim. The contractors would feel obligated to please the company that chose them, not the homeowners.

Citizens Property Insurance Corp.’s Board of Governors is asking the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR) to approve language placing an unrealistically low $10,000.00 limit on all non-weather-related water losses unless the insured submits to Citizens’ “voluntary” managed repair program.

Steve Bitar, of Citizens Underwriting Department, was quoted as saying, “We don’t want to take coverage away, so all customers will have the option to elect the managed repair program.” But Citizens is indeed taking coverage away from anyone who doesn’t want a stranger making all the decisions about repairs to their home.

Citizens states that abuses by some contractors using Assignment of Benefits (AOB) required them to take these extreme measures. But many stakeholders have come together and agreed on solutions that would go a long way toward thwarting AOB abuse. If the insurance industry had agreed with these common-sense fixes rather than focusing on trying to add anti-consumer language to proposed AOB legislation, this problem would have been solved years ago.

Traditionally, insurance policies have contained an “option to repair” clause but it was rarely invoked. Today, the process has been re-branded as managed repair and is touted by some insurers as a cost-saving measure for policyholders. They do reduce payouts, but it’s because they underestimate the amount of damage, skimp on quality of materials and repairs, and frequently don’t pull permits and/or use unlicensed and/or uninsured contractors or subcontractors.