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The Fla.-owned insurer wrote to customers who haven’t made payments due to COVID-19 that they must pay all money owed by Aug. 15 or face cancellation.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida’s state-run insurer of last resort says it’s time to pay up.

Citizens Property Insurance Corp. customers who have been unable to make their homeowner insurance payments because of a COVID-19-related hardship will have to come up with a way to fulfill their obligations or face cancellation after Aug. 15, the company said in letters sent to agents and customers this month.

As of July 17, 13,063 Citizens customers – about 7.5% of the company’s 481,000 policies – were past due, according to the company. They include 8,107 whose policies were renewed with no down payment since March, leaving customers owing hundreds if not thousands of past-due dollars.

Some agents worry that continued high rates of unemployment will prevent many of those homeowners from resuming making payments next month, causing them to lose their insurance just as the worst part of the hurricane season approaches.

Homeowners with mortgages would then face having their lender force-place an insurance policy, a more costly option which would increase the debt and possibly lead to foreclosure. Homeowners without mortgages would bear the cost of their own repairs – if they could afford it.

Making matters worse, the resumption of cancellations and nonrenewals comes amid skyrocketing renewal rates – a result of heightened hurricane activity, claims fraud and rising costs for insurance that insurers must buy.

“Payments have been deferred and people are still not working. How are they going to pay?” asks Dulce Suarez-Resnick, vice president of NCF Insurance Associates in Miami. “We all thought this pandemic was going to last two or three months. But it’s been much longer and we don’t know when it’s going to end.”

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Please call Lee from Acentria Insurance at 954-270-7966 for free quotes on Home Insurance, Auto, Flood, Private Flood, Car, Business & Commercial & Life, group & Financial products as well.

Four sinkholes have opened up in a fast-growing retirement community in Florida, including one in front of a home that was abandoned months ago because of an earlier sinkhole.

A spokeswoman for the Marion County Sheriff’s Office says the new sinkholes opened up Monday in The Villages following a week of nonstop rain in central Florida.

No evacuations were ordered as of Monday afternoon.

Spokeswoman Lauren Lettelier says the sinkholes are in a golf course community lined with homes and a lake. Two homes and three people were evacuated from the neighborhood in February because of a sinkhole.

Of the four new sinkholes, one is underneath the lake, two are in yards and one is on a road in front of one of the abandoned homes.

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Please call Acentria Insurance and ask for Lee at 954-351-1961 for free quotes on Home Insurance, Auto, Flood, Private Flood, Car Insurance, Business & Commercial & Life & Financial products as well.

A sinkhole that swallowed a boat and destroyed two homes had stopped growing as officials said Saturday they would monitor it over the weekend before determining when cleanup can begin.

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The hole stayed stagnant since Friday afternoon, said Kevin Guthrie, Pasco County’s assistant administrator for public safety. He confirmed that the hole, which is 250 feet (76 meters) wide and 50 feet (15 meters) deep, is the largest in three decades in the county, which has a history of sinkholes.

Dramatic video showed the home in Land O’ Lakes, north of Tampa, collapsing into the hole Friday morning. It quickly engulfed one home and a boat and then consumed about 80 percent of another home.

Guthrie said 11 homes in all have been affected. A third home lost about 45 feet of driveway and a septic tank.

Of the other nine evacuated homes, residents were allowed to return to four of them on Saturday afternoon

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A massive sinkhole at a fertilizer plant should be plugged by spring, months after contaminated water and waste began flowing into Florida’s main drinking water aquifer, the company said Friday.

“Based on the survey results, the company now has a better understanding of the sinkhole dimensions – which is a critical step in remediating the sinkhole,” she wrote.

Neslund said the upper cavity is between 140 feet and 150 feet in diameter at its widest point, and about 220 feet deep.

Mosaic _ one of the world’s largest producers of phosphate and potash for fertilizer _ previously acknowledged that the contamination had spread to groundwater around the sinkhole.


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CLAIMS BILL OF RIGHTS AND ASSIGNMENT OF BENEFITS CONTINUES TO MOVE This legislation, HB 743 by Representative Hood, and SB 708 by Bean require insurers to provide a “claims bill of rights” to consumers that file homeowners’ claims.  We have worked extensively to make the notices track existing law provisions throughout the insurance code, and inserted language clarifying that this notice does not create new law or a new cause of action in the courts.  The bill contains numerous requirements for contractors accepting an assignment of benefits.  The goal of getting the AOB language out of the bill has been realized, as passage of weak AOB requirements could weaken progress insurers may make in the courts by codifying clearly that AOB’s are permissible. The bill is moving, and was adopted by the full Senate this past week, and will likely be adopted by the House this week. FLOOD INSURANCESB 542 by Brandes, and HB 879 by Hooper create private incentives for insurers to write Flood insurance in Florida.  The House offered a strike all to the bill and enacted it after significant debate on Friday afternoon.  It will be heard again by the House on third reading today and sent back to the Senate, where I anticipate it should be adopted and sent to the Governor, although anything could happen. The bill contains language de-regulating rates for private flood insurance for the next few years, which can be offered in a stand-alone policy, or as a coverage or endorsement to a homeowner’s policy.  Insurers would also have the option of filing their rates for approval.  The legislation allows insurers limited flexibility to design their forms and coverage’s.  The House bill allows insurers to write only four types of flood insurance, standard, preferred, custom and supplemental.  The standard policy will track coverage’s under the existing Federal flood program, and uses the current definition.  Under the house bill, the preferred plan provides additional coverage by expanding the definition of “flood”, adding additional living expenses, and mandating replacement cost for personal property, instead of ACV.  The expanded definition of Flood includes water intrusion originating outside a structure that are not considered a flood loss under a standard flood policy issued by the NFIP.  “Custom policies” must include the standard coverage at a minimum, but allow insurers to be creative.  “Supplemental policies” authorizes a wrap policy product that is sold in conjunction with someone that has existing flood coverage from the NFIP or a voluntary insurer. Agents must notify consumers being removed from the NFIP that if the consumer later wants to re-enter the NFIP, a full risk rate for flood insurance may by charged by NFIP.  Both bills encourage surplus lines insurers to offer flood by eliminating the three declinations from other insurers when placing flood coverage, but the house bill only allows that if the rate is at least 10 percent less  that the flood premiums charged by an admitted Florida insurer. Insurers must notify the OIR 30 days before they begin to write flood insurance, and file a plan of operation and financial pro forma with the OIR. At this point, the House is strongly against allowing policyholders to only purchase enough coverage to cover their mortgage, and passed SB 542 on Friday on special order without this “mortgage only” language. Interestingly, the OIR believes that the bill may have de-regulated form filings, but the requirement to file a plan with the OIR will likely be used to require form filing and approval.   This will be an interesting issue if adopted in its current form.
CITIZENS’ SINKHOLE REPAIR LEGISLATION STALLEDHB 129 passed the full House. This bill makes changes to how Citizens Property Insurance Corporation (“Citizens”) insures and pays claims for sinkholes.  The bill requires Citizens to offer deductible amounts of 2%, 5% and 10% of the policy dwelling limits for sinkhole loss coverage.  Current law allows property insurers including Citizens to offer sinkhole deductibles in the above amounts, including a 1% deductible, but does not require an offer of these deductibles.  Citizens and most insurers only offer sinkhole policies with a 10% deductible.  The bill also establishes a Citizens Sinkhole Repair Program to be operational by March 31, 2015.  The program will utilize approved repair contractors to ensure sinkhole repairs are completed.  Participation in the program will be mandatory for Citizens’ insured’s.  The bill establishes criteria to be an approved contractor.  Each sinkhole loss claim is submitted to the approved stabilization contractors who can submit itemized offers to Citizens for the stabilization repairs contained in the engineering report.  Policyholders will get to choose from a list of qualified approved contractors.  If the repairs cannot be made within policy limits, then Citizens can pay up to the policy limits to the policyholder (and no repairs will be made).  Repairs must be warranted by the contractor for at least 5 years.  The policyholders’ sole remedy is specific performance. The bill does not appear to be moving in the Senate at this point. HOUSE CONSIDERING CITIZENS’ REFORM PACKAGES The House is considering two Citizens’ reform packages which do not exactly match the Senate packages at this time. The House is taking a more conservative approach to property reform at this juncture.  HB 1109 by Representative Wood contains only a couple of reforms:

Currently, bid protests for goods and services purchased by Citizens go before the Board.  This legislation creates the same process for Citizens that exists for state agencies, which allow bid protests to go before an administrative law judge at the Florida Division of Administrative Hearings.  After receipt of a recommended order, the Board may overturn it for facts inconsistent in the record, or due to a disagreement with the law; thereafter appeals go directly to the First District Court of Appeals, the court directly below the Florida Supreme Court; and

Allows surplus lines insurers to participate in the Clearinghouse and make offers only on homes which receive no offer in the Clearinghouse from an admitted insurer.  The bill only includes surplus lines insurers that maintain surplus of $50 million, rated superior, excellent, exceptional or equally comparable financial strength by a rating agency acceptable to OIR, which purchase reinsurance covering their 100 year PML at least twice in a single season, and which obtains signed notices from the policyholder that an offer of coverage does not affect Citizens eligibility, and that surplus lines policies are not covered by FIGA or are not subject to rate review by the OIR, and other disclosures.  Policyholders are not made ineligible for coverage in Citizens by virtue of receiving an offer from a surplus lines insurer, and are re admitted to CPIC without underwriting for 36 months after being diverted.

It is unlikely that Representative Wood has the votes to advance the surplus lines portion of his bill. At this point, there will either be no bill or a significantly watered down version; this bill is paired with SB 1672 by Simmons which passed the Senate.

HB 1089 by Representative Raschein from Monroe County contains similar provisions to the Senate bills:

Provides exemptions for improvements to structures seaward of Coastal Control line in a county where 75% of policies are written by Citizens;

Any alternate study regarding wind mitigation discounts must be submitted as part of next Citizens’ rate filing; and

OIR may develop an addendum to the building code form for use in counties with stringent building codes.

HB 1089 passed the full House and has been transmitted to the Senate. FLORIDA INSURANCE GUARANTY ASSOCIATION ASSESSMENT LEGISLATION ADVANCESThis legislation requires new insurers with no prior year premium to make a good faith estimate and remit funds to the Florida Insurance Guaranty Association (“FIGA”) upon the occurrence of an assessment;  requires all assessments to be made by all insurers beginning and ending on the same dates;  eliminates rate filings with the OIR;  requires a true up filing with FIGA; requires insurers that over collect to remit all such funds to FIGA, and those that under collect to maintain a credit to be used with FIGA on a future assessment; allows FIGA to waive the up-front payment and collect assessments on a monthly payment option if FIGA maintains at least 6 months cash-flow; and clarifies that advanced assessments grant insurers a statutory accounting asset for the full amount advanced. The legislation has been amended into HB 375 and is headed back to the House. MAXIMUM SPEED LIMIT INCREASE Senate Bill 392 passed the full Senate. This legislation raises the speed limit on access highways to 75 miles per hour and certain other highways to 70 miles per hour. Additionally, the Department of Transportation is authorized to set such maximum and minimum speed limits over other roadways under its authority as it deems safe, not to exceed a maximum of 65 miles per hour. MOTOR VEHICLE UNDERWRITING AND CANCELLATION PERIOD LEGISLATION ADVANCES The full Senate passed SB 490. This legislation increases the motor vehicle underwriting period to a 60-day period instead of a 30-day period for the non cancelable coverage required to reinstate driving privileges revoked or suspended for DUI or failure to maintain required security. This change will make the underwriting period for all motor vehicle insurance policies a uniform 60 days.

Please call L & S Insurance at 1-888-244-7400  for quotes on Home, Auto, Business & Commercial, Flood, and Life & Financial products as well.

Profits are up for Citizens, Risk is down and the surplus now exceeds 6.4 Billion, the best in years. According to Citizens Insurance President Barry Gilway, and the actuaries that run the software they expect a 52% decline in coverage for fraudulent claims for Sinkhole which is what they expected, but the actual risk is still there and more. The 6.6% increase is for Citizens and follows the Glide path rate hike rules, but this 24% is only for people who have Sinkhole coverage and if they want to keep it. My guess is many will start to drop the coverage and deal with it if it happens?? PLease read the full story below and please call L & S Insurance at 1-888-244-7400 for quotes on Home, Auto, Flood, Business & Commercial, and Life Insurance products as well.

That will mean about 10% here in Fort Lauderdale and most of South Florida, but that seems to be the norm here of late. This was expected so no new news except prices continuing to be on the rise. Citizens Insurance led by Barry Gilway  is still loosing 10’s of millions in Sinkhole claims each year, but  that should begin to shrink each year and strongly to positively affect surplus.Please call L & S Insurance at 1-888-244-7400 for quotes on Home, Auto, Flood, Business & Commercial, and Life Insurance as well. PLease enjoy the full article below;


Julie Patel of the Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinal gives a great list of all the changes to come. Increased premiums, loss of coverages, fees and surcharges and of course the customer Service is bad on a good day. Every change that can be done to make Citizens the worst policy you can purchase is what our Governor Rick Scott wants and it is already in motion. The goal is to cut Citizens Policy holders from 1.5 million to 1/2 of that amount. Why would you want to be with this company, so please read this carefully and call L & S to get your quotes for Home Insurance, Auto, flood, business and commercial, and Life Insurance as well. Please read the full article and see how all of us in Fort Lauderdale and all over Florida will be affected including sinkhole issues:

Public adjustors claim to get you more money, but many of them use Fraudulent practices(Sinkhole Claims have been the worst) to get that money and take 20% or more from your claim check. To control Fraud the State  wants to keep Public Adjustors out of the picture until a claim has been  made so  the Insurance company  reviews the problem first. Public adjustors try to come out first and this can cost the consumer a lot of money if the claim would have been  paid properly and the adjustor was never needed. This has caused a lot of issues and a Law suit as well by the Public adjustors.  This is a  5th amendment issue possibly so the case will be heard. The Legislators and court system will be dealing w/ this issue over the next few months so please watch for more info. This will affect people in Fort lauderdale, S. Florida and all over Florida as well. Please read the full article by Julie Patel of the Sun Sentinal and please remember to call L & S Insurance for all of your Home, Auto,Flood, Business & Commercial and even Life and health Insurance quotes as well.

This was not as bad as was thought and should have been much higher, but somehow the rates only increased 6-10% for 1/1/2012. This will be on top of the Sinkhole Inscrease which will not affect Fort Lauderdale and S. Florida as badly as other areas like Tampa. The requested rate hike was for more than 20% and the rates are supposed to now be actuarily sound which will not happen w/ this increase so who knows what is to come. There is still the surcharge which could be up to 45% so may be this is what they will do, but our Governor wanted the bigger rate hikes and Senator Fasano seems to have won with increases that will come over time.Please read both article’s  by Julie Patel from the Florida Sun Sentinal and see how this could affect you soon. Please call L & S Insurance for all of your Auto, Home, business and Commercial coverage and Life Insurance as well: