A push by Citizens Property Insurance – the state-backed insurer of last resort – to hike premiums and reduce its risk against wind and storm damage is making it more difficult for Florida residents to insure their Treasure Coast homes.

A story in Vero Beach 32963 says obtaining wind coverage this year is “infinitely harder” than in 2011:

“We have people who actually had to go out and get new roofs at a cost of $20,000 or $30,000 in order to find affordable insurance,” says Michael Thorpe, co-owner of Treasure Coast Sotheby’s International Realty.

For nearly 40 years, the Florida lawyers of Philip DeBerard, Injury Attorney, have helped people throughout Treasure Coast who have been injured in any way: physically, emotionally or financially. We fight for the rights of insurance policyholders and property owners.

Citizens Property Insurance was created as a safety net to protect homeowners against storms and extreme weather events. Governor Rick Scott, who is driving the premium squeeze, says the company is dangerously overexposed and must tighten up to survive. But not everyone agrees. Policyholders have brought lawsuits against Citizens, alleging unfair and deceptive practices.

According to press reports:

“Using a longer and more demanding set of wind mitigation criteria issued last year, Citizens is reinspecting homes of policyholders and increasing rates or canceling polices when houses do not measure up to new stricter guidelines for storm resistant windows, doors and roofs….

“The company, which is the largest property insurer in Florida with 1.4 million policies, is also refusing to insure some structures it used to cover.”

Statistics indicate that premiums went up for nearly three-fourths of the 225,502 homeowners who had the inspections.

What compounds the problem is the fact that a number of commercial insurers have pulled out of the market in the aftermath of several costly hurricanes over the last two decades. While carriers may be willing to cover a house on the mainland, they are not willing to do so oceanfront. If the house is an older structure—then forget about it.

According to the company, they are simply trying to align their premiums with risk reality. Critics, however, say Citizens is jacking up rates in a tight market, often by thousands of dollars per year.

It’s not just storm-battered areas that are being affected by the insurance squeeze. Homebuyers in places where hurricanes are not a threat are especially prone to overlook the importance of finding out how wind-resistant a house is before signing on the bottom line.

Press reports also state that under Citizen’s new guidelines, it may never cross their minds that it may be uninsurable or more expensive to insure home with a gable roof compared to a house with a hip roof, as a hip roof structure is stronger. These individuals are also unlikely to question a seller about the roof sheathing’s nailing pattern, discovering later that the plywood was not nailed down with long nails or with as many nails as required. Even if the sheathing was fastened down in compliance with existing building codes at the time the house was built, the roofing material my need to be torn off or replaced so the sheathing may have nails added if an inspector from Citizens comes by.

Contact a Treasure Coast Trial Lawyer Today

Do you have a question about homeowner’s insurance, property damage, or storm coverage for your home? Call the office of Florida lawyer Philip DeBerard today toll-free at 888-649-6095 or use our online contact form. We can provide you with a free and confidential case evaluation.

Philip DeBerard was one of the first attorneys in Florida to earn board certification as a civil trial lawyer. He heads up a team of lawyers, paralegals and staff who work hard for their clients and are dedicated to helping people in South Florida and the Treasure Coast, including Stuart, Port St. Lucie, Jupiter, Palm Beach, Okeechobee, and Vero Beach.


Vero Beach 32963