Are you one of thousands of homeowners wondering what happened to your property insurance discount in Florida? Perhaps you went for the option of using an expert witness for an expensive inspection that entitled you to property insurance discounts on your homeowners insurance for things like wind protection. Florida law requires insurance companies to offer homeowners discounts or credits for existing building features or home improvements that reduce damage and loss from hurricanes. Florida insurance companies are required to file these discounts with the Office of Insurance Regulation.
The discounts apply to your wind portion which accounts for 15 to 70% of your total premium, depending on where you live in Florida. We’d encourage you to check out MySafeFloridaHome.com/insurance.asp for more information.
Having moved here from State Farm Country in Central Illinois in the ‘80’s I was a loyal State Farm customer for all those years until last year. I started receiving letters stating that State Farm wanted to re-inspect my home, ignoring the reports I had presented years prior that entitled me to wind protections discounts.
Low and behold an inspector came out, looked around, and left. He didn’t ask me to show him anything. Next thing I know I received a letter denying my discounts. I asked for a re-inspection. That was denied. I asked them to look at my reports. They did and said it didn’t qualify. I provided copies of the permit and State Farm said the wind resistance tests weren’t with the documentation. Keep in mind the inspector looked into none of this. This was a failed test designed from the get go.
I provided the engineering and testing reports provided by the manufacturer. These products were tested and accepted by the state, but not State Farm. A loyal customer of State Farm for over 30 years was forced to switch. I’m sure State Farm isn’t the only company stingy with the discounts.
Citizens has made news the past few months after employing the same tactics. Citizens has received complaints stemming from their reinspection program that has resulted in 3 out of 4 property owners receiving rate hikes due to the new inspection. So far Citizens has inspected 257,000 properties, so that’s about 192,750 affected customers.
Due to the complaints, Citizens board of directors has decided to reform its reinspection program, hire an auditor, and improve its customer relations department. I’m still waiting on State Farm to do the same.
Property owners will now have a year to dispute the rate hikes. Owners can request another inspection free of charge. If an inspector previously could not enter an attic a home was denied automatically, but that’s not the case on the reinspection program.
I saw another report this past week that said the state has built up a $6.2 Billion dollar fund due to lack of hurricanes. I realize one big hurricane in a metropolitan area can change all that, but it would seem to me these insurance companies could pass along the savings for homeowners who have complied and strengthened their homes. Don’t set guidelines, ask people to spend money and follow them, then jerk the discounts away. These people have spent good money to protect their property which in turn should lower insurance costs. It seems the people are keeping their end of the bargain. And now it’s time insurance companies keep theirs.
We suspect this has happened to many here in SW Florida. If it has, call your insurance company. Let your elected representatives know. If it’s important to you, it will become important to them. Together we all pay, and together our thousands of voices will be heard, and hopefully together we’ll all save.
Feel free to share your insurance stories here.