Citizens Property Insurance Bare Bones Plan Is Just That

May 20, 2013

The following article was posted to the CBS Channel 4 Miami website on May 20, 2013:

Citizens Bare Bones Plan is Just That

Some South Florida homeowners who are insuredby Citizens Property Insurance may be eligible for a cheaper option.

Marco Villalobos of Doral said he needs to watch his budget closely. That’s why he tries to keep his homeowner’s insurance bill down to about $2,000 a year. Despite his need to save money, he said he hasn’t heard a thing about Citizens bare bones coverage call HO8 which could potentially slash his bill by more than 50 percent.

 “It sounds good but I don’t remember hearing about it,” said Villalobos.

If you look at Citizens’ website, you won’t find much on it either. Michael Peltier with Citizens Property said he’s not surprised.

“As a residual insurance carrier, Citizens does little marketing of any of our products. The H08 is no different. We rely on our agents to provide their customers with the information they need to make informed decisions on their insurance,” said Peltier.

 Peltier said since the plan was made available, of the 122,000 Citizens customers who would fit the criteria for the cheaper coverage, only 47 such policies have been written.

In order to qualify, the home must be $200,000 or less in value and at least 51 years old. The HO8 policy has restrictions including caps on theft claims and replacement cost payments. It also offers very limited coverage. Peltier said these policies were never intended to replace traditional policies.

“In the private market, the HO8 policy is a “niche policy” that is marketed to older homes in which the replacement cost is much higher than the market value,” said Peltier. “It was never meant to replace the traditional homeowners (HO3) policy. Numerous websites described its plusses and minuses.”

The HO8 policies were mandated by the state so property owners would have access to a bottom line policy in case they couldn’t afford anything else. Some state lawmakers are very critical of Citizens for not doing more to publicize these rock bottom policies. State Rep. Frank Artiles has been a long time critic of how Citizens does business.

“Our offices are getting bombarded by insurance calls that my insurance is astronomical. It’s becoming cost prohibitive to live in South Florida,” said Artiles.

Villalobos said he worries that Citizens intentionally withheld the information about the cheaper policies because they are not good for the agency’s bottom line.

“I assume it’s for their best and not for the best of their customers,” said Villalobos.