We are pleased to report that the recent proposal to cap non weather related water damage claims for Citizens Insurance Company policyholders has been dropped, thanks in part to FAPIA’s efforts to call attention to the matter through our membership as well as targeted media relations.
After hearing public testimony during the Citizens Board of Governors meeting on Friday, July 27th, the motion to reduce coverage for policyholders who suffer from water losses to a $15K special limit of liability was withdrawn. The decision came one day after Florida’s Insurance Consumer Advocate Robin Westcott spoke out, during a meeting of the Citizens Consumer Services Committee, against the cap in water loss coverage, increasing rates and the mitigation inspection process. The vote also followed publication of letters to the editor in the Palm Beach Post and Tallahassee Democrat from policyholders secured and interviewed by our public relations firm, Moore Communications Group.
FAPIA first became aware of the proposal to limit all non-weather related water loss claims to a special limit of liability because of our participation in a claims committee meeting on July 13th. We immediately reported this to the public adjusting community with an email call to action.
FAPIA leadership has worked ever since to make consumer groups and the media aware of the proposal to reduce coverage, reaching out to lawmakers and other leaders and collecting policyholder accounts of water damage claims provided by public adjusters statewide. We secured testimonials from teachers, attorneys and even a former Supreme Court Justice who was represented by a public adjuster for his water damage claim. We have also collected water loss damage photographs — dozens of which were delivered to Citizens’ new President, Barry Gilway, at the beginning of the July 27 meeting. The assistance of each PA that reached out to us was invaluable in our efforts. Some of those policyholder stories and photos can be found at www.whoisyourpublicadjuster.com, where we welcome and urge you to share your success stories and those of your policyholder clients.
There were a number of policyholder advocates present for the Citizens meeting as well as FAPIA members, supporting attorneys and consumer groups. At the request of members of the public, Citizens Chairman of the Board Carlos Lacasa, opened the meeting up for the public to voice their concerns.
The following statement was made by FAPIA Managing Director, Nancy Dominguez on behalf of the Florida Association of Public Insurance Adjusters:
“In establishing Citizens Property Insurance, the Legislature set out to create an affordable and comprehensive insurance option for property owners that have otherwise been locked out of the private insurance market. Florida Statute 627.351 regarding CPI states that “Florida has a compelling interest to ensure Florida property owners have access to insurance at affordable rates that facilitate the remediation, reconstruction and replacement of damaged property.”
“This cap effectively violates that law because it is too low to facilitate the necessary reconstruction and replacement in some of the most typical types of plumbing losses.’ “Moreover, in his consumer guide to properly insuring a home, Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater states that in order to be adequately covered, “your home must be insured for the amount it will take to rebuild the home at current prices for building materials and labor costs, including the amount necessary to bring it into compliance with current building codes.” “Having given much discussion and debate to the insurance crisis in Florida and the need to shrink CPI’s liability, we understand the need for changes and policies that will protect the state’s costs and losses in the event of a major damaging event.’ “But to do so at the expense of hardworking Floridians insured by Citizens is not the answer. Policyholders who face significant water damage will be unable to recover if they are limited to recovering only $15,000. CPI owes it to its more than 1.5 million policyholders, who have already been rejected by private insurers, to maintain coverage that protects them in the event of a catastrophic water loss. As policyholder advocates, we urge you and Citizens leadership to reject this proposed cap. We realize solutions must be found that are fair and equitable to Florida’s taxpayers as well as Citizens policyholders. This is not the solution. Thank you.”
After hearing from at least five members of the public including FAPIA members Hector Chinea and Raul Rivero, the original motion to pass the special limit of liability was withdrawn and was not further considered. This cap could be proposed again in the future, so FAPIA will be monitoring the proposals considered by the Citizens Board at all public meetings and will keep FAPIA membership informed.
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you for all of your letters and phone calls of support. The policyholders in Florida have won a major victory in the state’s ongoing efforts to water down insurance coverage.
Sincerely, Harvey Wolfman, President Florida Association of Public Insurance Adjusters