Homeowners would face a
A contractor who has spoken out in meetings around the state questioned how it's a fair choice for consumers, who have little way to know when water is rushing out of a failed pipe whether damage will be limited conveniently to
"This is a huge problem and is more of the continued effort to have Citizens and the other carriers control the whole restoration process and not allow the free market and the policyholder to make choices," said David J DeBlander, president of Pro Clean Restoration and Cleaning in
DeBlander said he has won awards for ethical service from local business groups, but maintained firms like his are often shut out of company managed-repair plans because his loyalty is to the consumer, not the insurer.
"The homeowner deserves to use the vendor of their choice," DeBlander said. "I currently have a case against them where, after not paying us for 10 months, they had an attorney call me to tell me they would give my company
A Citizens spokesman declined comment on that case, but company officials at Tuesday's meeting said water claims are a big reason why it needs to raise rates.
"It's ironic that our rates for wind coverage are coming down, but Citizens policyholders in
The average premium for an H03 policy, covering a single-family home, would rise to
Such premiums would rise 2.2 percent in
The average state increase for all Citizens residential policies including condos and renters would be 5.3 percent.
Wind-only policies that cover storm winds, and not fire, water claims and other hazards, would rise less, 1.2 percent statewide and 2.6 percent in
If approved by regulators, rates would take effect
"The peril of water continues to be the primary driver of Citizens' increased rate need," a company proposal said. "In particular, litigated water claims in
Citizens also proposes to refuse coverage for more than one water claim in three years or two in five years. Currently, homeowners must have fewer than three "non-Act of God" losses in three years.
In other cases, Citizens moved to ease some restrictions, such as no longer requiring additional inspections for homes more than 50 years old.
The company's rates have been complicated by a rapid downsizing from 1.5 million customers in 2012 to less than 500,000 now, though transfers to private insurers have significantly slowed and the company expects to add customers in 2017.
In 2016, Citizens posted its first loss since 2005,
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