How can Florida residents protect their homes and businesses from storm damage?
As was reported, Citizens Property Insurance Corporation's portfolio in Central Florida has plunged by 73 percent since 2012. The decline is part of the state's goal to reduce the risk to taxpayers in the event of the next catastrophic storm by shifting policy holders to other private insurers. Previously the company had one-quarter of the policy holders in the Florida Market.
The company is a nonprofit, tax-exempt corporation that was formed in 2002 to provide property insurance to Floridians who could not get coverage elsewhere, especially after private insurers pulled back after the devastating hurricane seasons of 2004 and 2005.
Citizens provides insurance for homes and businesses that other insurers will not cover - particularly extremely old houses or those in poor condition. Moreover, coastal properties in Brevard and Volusia Counties are more likely to be damaged by a hurricane, and Citizens has been the only insurer covering homes in these counties.
Some critics argue that Citizens' tax-exempt status undermines competition in the marketplace. Moreover, Citizens offers policies with more restrictive coverage and fewer options than private companies. By moving to private insurers, the risk to taxpayers will be lowered in the event of another catastrophe since all Florida insurance policies -- not just those for property, have customarily been charged an assessment fee to cover Citizens' claims.
However, it's been 10 years since Florida has been hit by a major storm and private insurers are making insurance available to more homeowners and businesses. Not only are smaller companies writing more policies, surpluses have been enhanced and reinsurance rates have also improved. In sum, some experts believe the home insurance marketplace is healthier now and that consumers have more choice.
However, the question remains as to whether the private insurance market will be able to handle claims in the event of another devastating hurricane. Moreover, many insurance consumers often find themselves battling with insurance companies to attain fair compensation for storm damage.
In these cases, a qualified property insurance attorney should be retained to fight for your rights and protect your home or business.