Okay. So it feels a little like that Junior Prom debacle with the cute little redhead from Mr. McGinty’s chemistry class. You remember it. I mean, sure you weren’t really that crazy about her anyway but when she broke it off with you and left you finishing out the party with “spaced-toothed Susie Stottlemeyer” . . . well, there was just no getting over it. “How could she dump me?” You wondered. “I’ve been so loyal; so attentive; so prompt with my claim-free premium payments.”
Nearly 200,000 Florida homeowners are feeling a little like that these days as they open notifications from Citizens’ Insurance telling policy holders that they’re being dumped into the laps of another insurer which may charge higher rates and provide less coverage than they had been getting with Citizens’. Worse yet, many of these sloppy-second non-standards are unproven, unknown, recent start-ups with little or no financial history. And unlike Citizens’ policies (which generally cap at a maximum 10% per year increase) – the sky is the limit for our back-up plan – rates on renewals can rise as much as the state will let them.
So is there any saving this relationship? Well, yes . . . maybe. Citizen’s policyholders have been given an option to reject the transfer and either stick with Citizens’ or select another private company — but policyholders must respond in writing within 30 days or the transfer happens. Fail to respond and you’re stuck with the “Space-toothed Susie” that they give you.
Who knows? Maybe we’ll look back and say that something better came along . . . we were better off without her. But with private market increases hitting 30%, 40% or more, this may be a breakup to cry over.
Russel Lazega is an attorney and author of two of Florida’s most widely distributed legal textbooks on Florida Insurance Law. He has also served as chief general counsel to an auto insurer. Mr. Lazega currently represents accident victims and consumers at war with their insurance companies. He is based in Dania Beach, North Miami, Orlando and Tampa, Florida. Contact: Russ@lazegalaw.com.