By Greg Giordano
Senator Mike Fasano met recently with the newly appointed president of Citizens Property Insurance Corporation Barry Gilway. Beyond being merely a “get to know you” session it was a “get down to brass tacks” discussion of the multitude of issues that constituents have shared with the senator. Specific examples of changes to policies and what the future will bring for policyholders were literally laid on the table for Mr. Gilway to review. Mr. Gilway was eager to listen and answered questions when he could and promised to look into issues that needed more research.
“I appreciated Mr. Gilway’s desire to reach out and meet with me,” Senator Fasano states. “After several letters that were sent to him and his predecessor it must have been obvious that the residents of our area have many questions and lots of concerns about changes being made to their homeowner policies. The way Citizens has been handling everything from wind mitigation credits to roof inspections has caused a lot of heartburn for our community.”
Under pressure to depopulate, or reduce its exposure, Citizens has looked at some proposals to shed large chunks of its policies to other insurers. The state’s largest insurer has been looking at ways to take back wind mitigation credits and increase the cost of full sinkhole coverage to a point that an already expensive peril will be totally unaffordable. Additionally, Citizens has been chipping away at peril coverage without reducing policy amounts.
“Changing the rules in the middle of the game is probably the worst thing that is happening to policyholders,” Senator Fasano states. “People who invested a lot of money to harden their homes against windstorms are losing the mitigation credits they earned. Reports of inspectors who don’t take the time to fully inspect roofs as a reason to ‘ding’ homeowners have been coming into my office. I made certain Mr. Gilway was made aware of these issues.”
Citizens responded positively to many of the concerns the senator raised. It was acknowledged that there is a need for greater communication between the insurer and its policyholders. Senator Fasano encouraged Mr. Gilway to create a position that would serve at the local level as a conduit between the company and its policyholders. The idea was well received and appeared to fit in with Mr. Gilway’s goal to bring his company closer to the homeowners.
Many of the anti-consumer changes have a foundation in SB 408. Senator Fasano vehemently opposed this controversial piece of insurance legislation that passed in 2011. It opened the door for some of the new policies now being implemented by Citizens. It has become evident that the consumer unfriendly provisions Senator Fasano and a few of his colleagues predicted are coming true to an ever greater extent than first projected. It will take legislative action to undo or correct the most egregious of these provisions that have harmed so many people already. The 2013 legislative session will be the time that those changes may be introduced and debated in Tallahassee.
Greg Giordano is Chief Legislative Assistant to State Senator Mike FasanoTweet