|By Larry Kahn, Florida Keys Keynoter, (Marathon, Fla.)|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
"The whole process should take about 10 months," said
Citizens holds around 25,000 windstorm policies in the Keys. The average policy holder pays around
Firm says that each year,
FIRM hopes the study will not only get those premiums down but even result in the Keys being removed from Citizens altogether, likely by creating an independent
The first step, Carruthers said, is creating requests for qualifications for risk companies to perform the study, which will entail inspecting homes and other buildings, and studying the Keys' history of building codes.
"The RFQs will be for vulnerability analysis, the storm surge and then natural catastrophe," Carruthers said. "We hope to have it done by the end of January, so [FIRM Executive Director]
"We will probably send it to some of the big risk [modeling] firms," Carruthers said. "We're also going to see if we can publish it on Demandstar.com," a website used for government contract bidding.
"We expect we'll give people three to four weeks to respond," she said. "Hopefully we'll be able to make a decision by March. We think once we select an initial vendor, we can get going in two weeks."
"In some cases," Carruthers said, "we'll be able to identify the specific homes to be in the model. When we do the profile, we'll actually send engineers to the houses, with the homeowners' permission, to confirm everything that exists on paper conforms to reality."
"We need to determine what the profile needs to look at. For example, look at a certain number of homes from each decade to correspond to the changes in the building code. It will probably be a couple of hundred homes that will be physically inspected.
"We'll also look at some of the institutional buildings [such as hospitals and schools] because they tend to be sturdier. It will be interesting, though, because even some of our old homes have been rebuilt" to tougher building codes.
Once the study is done, Carruthers said, "Then we go back to Citizens and say, You guys were right [about Keys windstorm rates], which I doubt; or we say, You were wrong."
At that point, Carruthers said, if the Citizens board decides the study shows that Keys property owners pay unfairly higher rates than property owners in the rest of the state, the board can decide to lower