By: Charles Elmore
The Palm Beach Post
Florida’s last-resort insurer Citizens says executives will talk Friday about changes to its controversial reinspection program affecting more than 225,000 customers.
Chairman Carlos Lacasa and president Barry Gilway will “discuss customer focused changes to the mitigation re-inspection program and plans to conduct a comprehensive organizational review,” a company statement said.
The inspections have taken away discounts for hurricane-related building features for three out of four of more than 225,000 customers. Premiums have jumped 23.5 percent or $600 on average. Some customers have seen annual bills double.
The Palm Beach Post reported Aug. 5 about widespread backlash against the results. One Palm Beach County inspector said the company and its contractors wanted him to change nearly half his reports to take away credits. South Florida customers in a lawsuit seeking class-action status say the program was a “subterfuge” to raise bills. Even a Citizens board member said she was denied credits after an inspector paid by Citizens said he could not get into her attic to verify discounts, but nothing changed even after she found another contractor who could.
State insurance consumer advocate Robin Westcott, who has brought a series of consumer complaints to the company’s attention, said Thursday she was encouraged Citizens leadership has begun to “recognize the problems in the re-inspection program.” Her office will “continue our review and offer additional input for making the re-inspection program fair and reasonable for Citizens policyholders,” she said.
Citizens is the state’s largest property with 1.4 million customers, including 140,000 in Palm Beach County.