Saturday, September 3, 2011

Roof & Sinkhole Foreclosures May Be On Horizon As Changes In One Insurer's Underwriting Guidelines May Squeeze Some Florida Homeowners Onto Street

In Central Florida, The Tampa Tribune reports:

  • Homeowners across Florida who are up for an insurance policy renewal with the state's insurer of last resort are receiving letters about their roofs. Anyone with a home 25 years old or older must get an inspection and prove to Citizens Property Insurance Corp. that their roof is expected to last at least three more years.

  • Robert Brown says he thought he had a few more years to save money to put new roofs on his rental homes. But Citizens told him the roofs must be replaced now, or it won't renew his policies.

  • "They're forcing people to put on a new roof, even if you have a few years of life left on the roof," Brown said. "This could force a lot of people into foreclosure, if they can't afford the roof and then lose their insurance." Replacing a roof on a typical home can cost several thousands of dollars.

  • The relatively new requirement for the roof inspection comes on the heels of another controversial Citizens policy. The company recently said it's raising its rates for sinkhole coverage by 400 to 2,000 percent in some Bay area locations.(1)

  • When it comes to the roof policy, some customers can't afford a new roof now and say they're letting their insurance lapse, local insurance agents said. "This couldn't come at a worse time," said Laura Hart, of Florian Insurance Inc. in Hudson. "This is the worst economy most of these people have seen in their lives." Hart said some customers are angry that their insurance company is taking away their chance to save longer for a new roof.

For more, see Citizens policy pushes some homeowners to add new roofs.

(1) See Residents rally in Pasco against sinkhole coverage hike:

  • Al Kutchera said he'll be one of many residents abandoning their homes and leaving the state if Citizens Property Insurance fulfills its proposal to raise rates for optional sinkhole coverage. The plan increases rates by more than 400 percent on average statewide and more than 2,000 percent in some Bay area locations.

  • "Nobody will buy the house, so I'll just let the bank have the house and look for a Realtor in South Carolina or Alabama or something," said Kutchera, who owns a home in Hernando County.


  • State Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, organized the rally with consumer advocacy group Policyholders of Florida. Fasano said the issue is bringing together people from all over the Bay area and from all walks of life that wouldn't be able to afford the increased rates.

  • He said a senior citizen came to his office because her mortgage company told her she had to have sinkhole coverage. The woman was in tears because she can't afford the coverage under the proposed rate hikes.

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