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  • as the state tries to fix, these are the real stories behind an industry on the brink [South Florida Sun-Sentinel] – InsuranceNewsNet

as the state tries to fix, these are the real stories behind an industry on the brink [South Florida Sun-Sentinel] – InsuranceNewsNet

By on May 28, 2022 0

Prohibitive insurance premiums, a wave of litigation and failing businesses combine to leave many Florida landowners short and without options, say consumers and industry critics.

Although state legislators have sent bills to address some of the problems in government. Ron DeSantiswho signed them on Thursday, observers say it will be up to 18 months before the public realizes the impact of this week’s special session in Tallahassee.

Here are several snapshots of homeowners who have suffered from system failures, whether it’s canceled policies, skyrocketing rates or unresolved claims from business insolvencies.

Park owner needs loan after insurer goes bankrupt

Last December, Mimi Brightowner of a five-bedroom, three-bathroom home in Parkfiled a complaint with Avatar Property & Casualty Insurance Co. of Tampa to help defray the costs of water damage caused by a slab leak under marble flooring in one of the home’s bathrooms.

But Avatar went into liquidation in March, while its claim of nearly $30,000 remains unresolved. After 6 months without being able to use her bathroom, she decided to pay for it herself while fighting for a settlement that will cover her costs.

Bright, who is a marketing consultant and former Park city ​​commissioner, said it took Avatar ten days to dispatch a leak detection company and another month to dispatch an expert to assess the damage.

Experts were also slow to learn that mold was part of the damage equation, Bright says.

Then an unexpected calamity struck: an adjuster who drove to her home left a door open as he walked out to his truck. Instantly his dogs ran away from the house and one of them was hit by a car.

Total cost of the veterinary bill: $23,000.

Aside from the vet bill, Avatar gave her a “very low estimate,” so she agreed to a partial settlement of about $20,000 for water damage.

“They sent me a partial settlement which we disputed because they were giving me $20,000 for the whole thing,” Bright said. A few years ago, the bathroom had been renovated to $30,000.

But the following month, Avatar was in receivership.

“When I went to drop off the [settlement] check it bounced,” she said

His request is now in the hands of the Florida Insurance Guarantee Association, the state agency that handles claims from customers of insurance companies that go bankrupt. An agent there told Bright there were 18 claims to deal with before her.

“Now I’m out of money,” Bright said.

So she pulled out a $40,000 loan to cover water damage repairs and medical expenses for the dog whose condition has improved following the accident.

The latter is about the only positive so far.

“I don’t have anything” about the claims process, Bright said. “If I didn’t take a loan, it could take another 6 months. The question is how long do I want to live without my bedrooms and bathroom? It’s already been six or seven months.

In the meantime, she got a new citizens’ police. but his annual bonus went from $4,540 with Avatar for $7,453.

“It’s just a nightmare,” she said. “I finally took out a loan for my mental health and I’m doing it myself.”

Retired from Boca: No complaints for 20 years, canceled anyway

Steve Haasa pensioner who lived in the same West Boca Raton house for 30 years and was insured by the same company for 20 years, says he lost his policy with Federal National Insurancealso known as FedNatfor no particular reason.

“There has been no claim activity,” he said. “I guess my number is out. In short, they wrote a letter saying that due to economic circumstances and in order to stay in business, “see you soon, goodbye”.

Haas said his home suffered damage from Hurricane Wilma in 2005. But he didn’t file a claim because the cost of rebuilding his sunroom was less than the police deductible.

“I’m not a complaints hog,” he said. “I always pay in full, from the start of the policy.”

The farewell of FedNat came in a letter to Haas and more than 68,000 other policyholders. FedNat and affiliated companies said these customers had up to June 29 at 00:01 find another insurer. Industry analysts believe it would likely be citizens.

“I’m definitely not the only pea in the pod,” Haas said.

“They said they had a bad financial situation and because of that they cut them [the policyholders] loose,” added Haas. “There was no other specific reason.”

Nest Tuesday. Haas said an inspector was to visit his home, built in 1980, to start the process of finding a new policy.

“Once the inspection is complete, I will send them a report and start shopping,” he said. “There has not yet been a discussion on tariffs. Talking to people at the insurance agency and reading the papers, God only knows what [premium] the number is going to be. Fingers crossed.”

But he added: ‘I expect the bounty to be much higher than what has been’, which was $2,930 after discounts.

“I’m not broke,” Haas said. “But when you’re retired and living on your investments and Social Securityit’s no fun when an expense is increased by anything – a thousand dollars or two thousand dollars a year.

Octogenarian sees rates soar

Lou Medina80, lived in his single-family home in Pembroke Pines since 1981.

For the past three consecutive years, his premiums have increased by 30% each year. It used to be $2,500 a year, he said. Now it’s $4,434.

Over the years, he said he’s filed claims to replace a roof after a hurricane and to repair water damage to his home from an overflowing washing machine.

He said he was insured by state farm for decades until the company let go of him six years ago.

Since then it has been covered by two other private companies and Citizens, who have dropped it twice. His insurer is now VYRD, a Saint PETERSBOURG company that serves Florida. The bounty is now $6,656 versus $5,217 the previous year, he said.

Prices, he argues, are anything but rational.

“You can’t stay one step ahead,” Medina said.

Medina ditched a full replacement value policy, which covers the cost of rebuilding a home with an all-new version, in favor of a cash value option that gives the homeowner the option to cover the actual cost of damage at current values ​​after depreciation.

“Insurance has continued to grow 25% or 30% every year and it’s crazy,” he said. “The insurance will be more than the house is worth.”

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