July 27, 2012
TALLAHASSEE, FL - Florida’s Insurance Consumer Advocate Robin Westcott this week told Citizens Property Insurance Corporation’s Board of Governors Consumer Services Committee that its inspection program is confusing, has inequitable results, and is threatening Florida’s already vulnerable economy.
“The current inspection process is working against the very goals we should be supporting -- encouraging homeowners to take steps to harden their homes against storms and removing unreasonable barriers to homeownership,” Westcott said. Westcott says that she understands the need for Citizens to obtain an accurate inspection of the mitigation features of a home in order to determine the correct premium, but that the program should be more proactive in helping consumers obtain documentation of mitigation features and know what must be done to reinstate any premium credits that are taken away. Westcott made the statements Thursday at a meeting of the Board’s Consumer Services Committee.
Westcott urged Citizens to use "plain language" when communicating with policyholders about the inspection process, involve policyholders in the inspection process and allow homeowners to comment and provide documentation, and require inspectors to pull permit history prior to the on-site inspection.
She described three consumers in adjoining townhouses under the same roof who had inspections done by Citizens' contractors, and each received different results. One inspector pulled permits and took a photo of roof clips to help the consumer score discounts. The other two did not pull the permit and wrote "other" instead of noting the presence of clips resulting in loss of discount.
Westcott also spoke against a proposal to raise rates for new Citizens policyholders' rates by more than its current cap of 10 percent a year and reduce coverage for water losses to $15,000.
Visit the Office of Insurance Consumer Advocate website to learn more about Florida’s Insurance Consumer Advocate.