Volume 4 Number 23
June 8, 2007

CITIZENS PROPERTY INSURANCE POLICYHOLDER PUBLIC FORUM

Citizens Property Insurance Corporation executives invited its policyholders to speak with them at a Public Forum held in Fort Lauderdale on May 15th, 2007.  Around 100 people accepted the offer to attend, including policyholders, insurance agents, news organizations and several elected State officials. 

During the presentation, Chairman Bruce Douglas explained that Citizens is created, controlled and regulated by the State of Florida but has its own management team whose sole purpose is service.  He noted that although Citizens intends to build its surplus fund, it is not profit oriented. 

Several key Citizens executives spoke about various topics, such as EVP Susanne Murphy, the former South Carolina Insurance regulator.  Underwriting SVP Paul Palumbo informed about rate rollbacks resulting in refunds to about 100,000 policyholders, and further premium credits available for reinforcement of homes against storms.  CONTINUED

Director of Communication and Legislative Affairs Christine Turner discussed important recent legislation that begins in August to provide potential benefits from purchasing a multi-peril policy in the Wind pool area.  Assistant Director of Agent and Consumer Services Steve Bitar discussed several recent initiatives being made to improve customer service, including enhancements to the Citizens website and to its consumer advocate role. 

Chairman Douglas then solicited comments, questions and suggestions from the audience and legislators.  In total, around 50 questions were asked by 35 people.  The questions ranged from why other companies cancelled long standing homeowner policies, how many claims remain from Hurricane Wilma, to how much premium discounts are available for condos and mobile homes that have mitigated their hurricane risks by fortifying these structures. 

People wanted to know what amount of money is being forecast for future hurricane claims, and whether that impact may result in the need for additional assessments to all Florida insurance policies.  One person asked how much the Chairmanís salary was and he replied that he did not accept one penny of salary from Citizens!  Any time that a consumer posed a specific question about their policy, they were referred to a team of Citizens operations support staff with company laptops who immediately looked up the answer for them.  

Chairman Douglas accepted one suggestion as having value for future consideration; to have vendors in place such as pre-need contracts with designated hotels to provide for Additional Living Expense housing at reasonable rates for Citizens policyholders if necessary.  The Florida Department of Financial Services was also on site at the event, providing attendees with free consumer guides to homeowner insurance.  The Department also provided information about how to sign up for the My Safe Florida Home program offering free home inspections to determine a homeís strength against windstorms, with possible matching grants to fortify the structure.  The results of this Policyholder Forum will be presented to the Task Force on Citizens Property Insurance Claims Handling and Resolution, which is scheduled to hold two public hearings in Ft. Lauderdale at Nova University on June 19th.  The Task Force will then make significant recommendations to Citizens management and Legislature based on the information being gathered at different locations statewide.   

If you were not able to attend any of these meetings in person, you may submit your suggestions for improved customer service online at the following website:   http://www.citizensforabettercitizens.com All suggestions received will be forwarded to Citizens staff for review and consideration.