Reporting Al Sunshine
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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Thousand of South Florida homeowners insured by the state-run Citizens’ Property Insurance have gotten a letter from them recently that said they’re coverage had been chosen to be transferred to a private company if they fail to send in a form on time giving them the choice of opting out of the transfer and keeping their existing coverage.
It’s all part of a recent effort by Governor Rick Scott and the Florida Legislature to “shrink” Citizens’ Insurance and move policy holders in private companies.
Those who didn’t take the time read the letters and tossed them out were automatically “depopulated” into another company they know nothing about.
It’s called a “Negative Option” plan and is intentionally aimed at getting as many policyholders as possible off Citizens’ coverage, according to a member of the group’s Board of Directors.
Eighty four thousand policies have already been ‘taken out’ and it’s believed as many as 210,000 more, mainly based in high risk coastal areas of South Florida, have been earmarked for removal.
The goal is reduce Citizens’ exposure and allow private companies to take on more “risk” in the event of a bad storm in the future.
But critics argue the way the program is being done does not give homeowners enough information about the new companies that want to take over their policies, or their ability to pay claims in the event of any major storm losses.
To make matters worse there is a 30 day countdown which expires on Nov. 6th for the most recent group of homeowners “selected” for depopulation. That means those homeowners who do nothing, and fail to send back the proper ‘opt out’ forms, they will be automatically removed from Citizens’ Insurance and their policy will be turned over to a new company.
Citizens’ Property Insurance main web page has little information on the plan, so many homeowners may be frustrated on how to get more information to ‘just say no”, but CBSMiami found more information for you to decide for yourself if you want to accept the new coverage, or opt out and stay with your current Citizens’ policy.
Some of Citizens’ customers, like Waldo Faura, say while the new plan is ‘optional’, Citizens’ is telling their customers all the details.
“I think Citizens’ has been on the path to push insurance policies for the insurance companies at the expense of the insured and this is another means, another way, of doing it.”
CBS4’s Chief Consumer Reporter Al Sunshine said customers who get a letter from Citizens’ which says a private company wants to take over their coverage, they may want to go to that company’s website and check them out.
To decline the offer from a private company, Citizens’ customers have to file a formal opt-out form within 30 days of receiving the notice. Citizens’ has set up a special hotline for additional information (888) 685-1555.
You can also get more information from your local insurance agent.
Click Here for more information of Citizens’ “Depopulation Plan.”