Called by Senator Oscar Braynon II and Representative Frank Artiles
Is the current Citizens Insurance crisis moving blindly along to place a 2nd nail in the coffin of the South Florida Real Estate market?
Some issues addressed were:
1) The Citizens Insurance business model is creating very expensive, litigious crises, to the tune of $2.8 Billion spent by the insurer over the last 2½ years and its growing like a “cancer”.
2) The lack of alternate, competitive insurers in the South Florida Market has created a bureaucratic, quasi-government monopoly, that’s perhaps out of control, way too large to failand perhaps way over-exposed to risk. They carry over 1.5 Million policy holders whom are experiencing compounding, rising prices, increasing seemingly out of control, 10 – 20+ times the current rate of inflation/cost of living index.
3) There is only one Public Advocate for the entire State of Florida, whom by the way is appointedby the legislature. There are small private entities about however they seem publicly obscure.
4) The removal of the independent appraisal clause from their insurance contracts and the resulting lack of abilities of Public Adjusters to effect any fair & level playing fields for claimants, thus leading to the vicious cycle of rising litigation, legal expenses, fees and costs in 1) above and the lengthy legal battles clogging our already over-burdened court systems.
So what can possibly be done? Some suggestions from the Forum were:
1) Create competition and how!
2) Eliminate the burdensome, litigious policies & practices of Citizens.
3) Create a Fair & Just relationship between consumer & Citizens ... whereby we work together as a team versus how it's apparent today, an adversarial relationship.
4) Encourage major players to return to the Florida market by allowing them to make fair profits, while NOT allowing them to single out & separate Florida within their corporate structures, thereby returning to "spreading the risks” over ALL 50 States, much like the National Flood Insurance Program does.
5) Bring back the role of Public Adjusters and competitive bids.
6) Bring back the "Fair" Appraisal rights of policyholders.
7) Create fair & just "Replacement Value" calculators.
8) Create Binding Mediation & Arbitration rules & regulations ... before, or in replacement of litigation (except in criminal actions such as fraud and culpable negligence by either or both sides).
9) Have a "Wind only" policy from Citizens, thereby removing some risk, while simultaneously, private insurers can pick up that “less risky”, perhaps more profitable market.
10) With 9 above, encourage solid, capitalized, private companies to return to the Florida market.
11) Keep Deductibles to a minimum. Because allowing 2% - 5% Hurricane Deductibles could be financially catastrophic to the unprepared, working family or senior citizen or most anyone.
12) Create some "Financial Responsibility" rules similar to what exists in the Auto Insurance industry.
Some useful web links for you are:
www.fmap.org - The Florida Market Assistance Program
www.flior.com/choices - The (Florida) Insurance Office of Regulation (FLIOR)
www.CitizensFlorida.com - The Office of the Consumer Advocate.
All are meant to provide the consumer with information on possible alternate insurers.
Steve Epstein, Miami-Dade County, Florida.