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Consumer Advocate Questions Citizens Mitigation Program

Consumer Advocate Questions Citizens Mitigation Program

Florida’s Insurance Consumer Advocate Robin Westcott raised concerns about Citizens Property Insurance Corporation’s mitigation reinspection program at its recent board and committee meetings.  Ms. Westcott also issued a press release saying that the inspection process is confusing, has inequitable results, and serves as a threat to Florida’s already vulnerable economy.

“The current inspection process is working against the very goals we should be supporting — encouraging homeowners to take steps to harden their homes against storms and removing unreasonable barriers to homeownership,”  Ms. Westcott said.  Ms. Westcott acknowledged that Citizens needs to obtain an accurate inspection about homes’ mitigation features to calculate the correct premium.  However, she believes the program should do a better job helping consumers understand the process and obtain proper documentation.  As an example of the confusion, she mentioned that consumers in three adjoining townhouses under the same roof had inspections done by Citizens’ contractors, and each received different results.

Ms. Westcott is not the first to raise questions about the inspection process, and the questions are not necessarily unique to Citizens Property Insurance Corporation.  Insurers have their own concerns about the discount program, with the magnitude of the discounts exceeding the reduction in risk and not being reflected to the same degree in reinsurance costs.  A study by the Florida Commission on Hurricane Loss Projection Methodology showed flaws in the program.  Ultimately, these flaws have the unfortunate effect of making homes with substantial mitigation features and discounts financially unattractive and making the rates on homes with little or no discounts too high.  The complexity of the form and variations in inspectors’ interpretations of the criteria only add to the problems with a program that has had glaring weaknesses from the outset.