Citizens Property Insurance drops customers over roofing

Aug 31, 2011

The following article was posted to the MyFoxTampaBay website on August 31, 2011: 

Citizens drops customers over roofing

By Deborah Bowden

Many Florida homeowners are getting a “Dear John” letter of sorts from Citizens Insurance, saying the company of last resort is leaving them.

The state-run insurance company is threatening to drop coverage for thousands of homeowners because of a new roofing requirement.

The rule went into effect last year, but many are just now finding out as their policies come up for renewal.

Al Partridge, who lives in New Port Richey, just got his letter. He can’t remember the last time his roof leaked — he hasn’t had a problem in years.

But Citizens says: prove it.

“It’s just nonstop aggravation,” Partridge said. “Some flunky up in Tallahassee saw a little groove in the edge of the roof here and wanted that fixed. So I spent $800 to have a roof fixed that wasn’t leaking.”

But then, he says, Citizens dropped him anyway. They now want him to replace the entire roof. The cost: about $8,000.

“I can’t. My Social Security check only goes so far and that’s it. There’s no way I can come up with that kind of money,” Partridge said.

He’s not alone. If your home is 25 years or older, Citizens wants proof your roof will last at least the next three years — otherwise, no coverage.

Iit’s forcing a lot of homeowners to get a new roof, at the worst possible time.

“We, unfortunately, have people who are very upset at our desks. We do our best to reassure them that this is he right thing for them to do and we’re sorry we can’t do more and this isn’t our choice,” said Sharon Kuns, with AAA Insurance.

Insurance agents say they’re getting lots of frantic calls, but Citizens says it’s just good business. The company wants to make sure it is not covering homes that are vulnerable to hurricanes and other damage because of a weak roof.

Florida State Senator Mike Fasano says calls are pouring in because of problems with Citizens. He’s pushing lawmakers for changes.

“People in Tallahassee just don’t get it,” Fasano says. “For some, they just can’t afford that. And you’re going to wind up seeing people either lose their home or you’re going to wind up seeing people go without insurance at all, if they don’t have a mortgage.”

Al Partridge doesn’t have much choice. His reverse mortgage requires insurance, so he has to pay up, or face foreclosure.

At this point, he is ready to throw up his hands, and just leave.

“I’m ready to just move out of Florida. I just can’t afford to live here anymore,” he says.

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