|September 11, 2012|
Previously published on September 7, 2012
Citizens Property Insurance Corporation's ("Citizens") Consumer Services Committee met yesterday, September 6, 2012.
After receiving a barrage of negative publicity about its mitigation re-inspection program, Citizens is offering policyholders free re-inspections to help resolve disputes, evaluate new wind-resistant features and access previously blocked attics. The offer of re-inspections was initially announced on August 17, 2012, it was noted.
Citizens' Senior Director of Insurance Operations Eric Ordway explained that the second inspections must be conducted within 12 months of the original inspection. Any mitigation credits slated for removal as a result of the first inspection will be deferred until after the second inspection.
Florida Insurance Consumer Advocate Robin Westcott lauded the change, repeating the message at the meeting to make sure the news was clear.
"What we are saying here is if you had an inspection within 12 months and you feel like there is a dispute on that inspection, or there was some problem with attic access you have the right to call in and say, 'I have a problem here,' and we are going to address that," Ms. Westcott said.
"I think that needs to be very clear-I want to make that perfectly clear-everyone understands if you were inspected within 12 months of today you can seek redress," Ms. Westcott repeated.
The offer of a free re-inspection is good until August 2013 and will apply to all 257,000 Personal Lines inspections already conducted by Citizens, Mr. Ordway noted.
In support of the Personal Lines re-inspection effort, Citizens announced the following specifics:
Attic Features: Immediate assistance will be afforded to certain policyholders by deferring the removal of any impacted credits due to lack of attic access for a minimum of 12 months. Citizens will pay for a second inspection if the policyholder later creates access to the impacted features during that time frame.
Second Inspections: Within 12 months of the initial re-inspection, Citizens will begin paying for second follow-up inspections if a policyholder makes improvements to his or her home by upgrading its wind-resistive features, or if requested by a policyholder or agent to validate specific features being disputed as part of Citizens' dispute resolution process.
Communications: Citizens will make a multi-level effort to better inform and educate policyholders and agents about the re-inspection process.
Insofar as Commercial Lines, Citizens is currently on pace to complete approximately 2,100 buildings and special class items by the end of 2012 through the Commercial re-underwriting program. Presently, a graduated approach to the volume of inspection activity continues, primarily due to the time period (middle of catastrophe season) and the utilization of commercial adjusting resources for the initial inspections. Citizens' desire is to keep these resources' pending volumes at lower levels, in the event they need to be transitioned over to support any catastrophe response.
Also as part of the agenda, Citizens General Counsel Dan Sumner reviewed concerns discussed during July 2012 meetings held with the Florida Manufactured Housing Association and the Federation of Manufactured Homeowners of Florida. Citizens was asked to provide an opinion on Chapter 723, F.S., which defines the relationship between mobile home communities and mobile homeowners included in filed prospectuses. Also discussed at that time was Xactware's method of calculating depreciation.
Aside from its re-inspection communications, Citizens will embark on an external communications plan in an effort to ensure it is communicating in an "effective and useful manner" with the Florida Legislature, Florida Insurance Consumer Advocate, policyholders, agents, media, non-Citizens policyholders and the general public. A communications plan framework was presented to outline how best to present Citizens' core issues to these stakeholders. These issues include the mitigation re-inspection program, assessments, sinkhole issues, coverage changes, rates and depopulation. Other issues expected to be forthcoming include wind-only eligibility, roof certification and plumbing inspections.
With no other business before the Committee, the meeting was adjourned.