Inspections prompt rise in insurance premiums

Citizens reinspects hundreds of thousands of homes

DAVIE, Fla. – Hundreds of thousands of Citizens Property Insurance Corp. customers' homes are being reinspected to make certain they qualify for hefty discounts, and many are seeing their premiums skyrocket.

Miami Beach residents Marilyn and Phil Stander learned their premiums would increase by about $2,193 after their home was reinspected for wind mitigation discounts.

Marilyn Stander said the inspector did not go into her attic, so she lost her roof discount. Living on a fixed income, they said they cannot afford the 50 percent increase. And, if they fight the report, they have to pay for another inspection.

Citizens has reinspected more than 225,000 homes so far, and 75 percent of them had their premiums raised. It also plans to reinspect 138,000 more homes this year.

Wind mitigation specialist Mike Meeker said some rules have changed, making it harder t get the discounts.

"Basically, to get a discount, you have to show a photo. Therefore, if something is not visible or accessible, the client doesn't get the discounts they deserve," Meeker said.

Diana Latzko had her home reinspected three months ago by State Farm, and she got all her discounts before she was dropped. But, when a Citizens inspector showed up, it was a different story.

"He was on a witch hunt from the time he walked in the door. He was rude, abrupt and challenging," Latzko said.

When the inspector could not find any information on Latzko's sliding-class, hurricane impact doors, he told Latzko she had a problem. Latzko said she produced the original stickers that were on her doors and windows and labeled them.

Thanks to her steadfast bookkeeping, Latzko's rates were not raised.

In a statement, Citizens said, "The purpose of this program is not to circumvent the 10 percent rate cap. Citizens provides $1 billion in credits annually to its policyholders. It is imperative that we only provide credits for policies which actually contain wind mitigation features.