If you look up “insurance scam” in the dictionary, you will find the logo for Citizen’s Property Insurance. For those of you reading this who do not own a home in Florida, this may seem like a lot of whining for those of us who live in a subtropical paradise, and it is. But it still sucks.
I have owned four homes in Florida since 1995, and not once have I had anything but Citizen’s Insurance. This was not by choice; they are what the State refers to as “The Insurer of Last Resort”, which, roughly translated, means “We can charge whatever the hell we want and you have to pay, nyah-nyah!”. See, after Hurricane Andrew destroyed thousands of dollars of sub-par homes that passed inspection thanks only to the crooked building inspectors in South Florida, insurance companies bailed out of the Sunshine State faster than alcoholics passing through a dry county. But since mortgage companies still wanted to secure their investments, the State created (through a lot of bureaucratic paper shuffling and ordinance passing) an insurance company that had no choice BUT to insure anyone who needed property insurance.
Isn’t it nice when the State looks out for us? Uh-huh, it’s just great. See, once you create a company that gets all the rejects, they have the power to charge whatever the hell they want. And they do.
I currently own a lovely two bedroom a-frame bungalow in the ghetto. I paid just over $70,000 for the home and financed slightly less. So imagine my surprise when I got my insurance policy renewal in the mail last week. $3000. That coverage includes insuring my home for slightly less than $200,000 and my fence- my FENCE- for $19,000. For $19,000 I should be able to have the Chippendale dancers come enclose the property with stones from Easter Island- with their penises while they strip to Slow Ride. I actually checked the application to see if that was Canadian or Jamaican money but, no, that’s American dollars they want. So I did what any freelance writer would do… I put on my heels, pantyhose, three piece Petite Sophisticate charcoal gray business suit, got a maincure, styled my hair, and found a nice marketing position with a mid-level auto dealership.
Oh, wait, no, that’s not me, I got that wrong. I called people and bitched. There, that rings more true. I called Luci and Tom, who commiserated but, lacking the proper surety bonds and licensing, couldn’t offer me a better policy. So then I called the State’s Department of Financial Services (formerly the Insurance Commissioner) and told them that I could not afford the State-launched insurance and did I have any options other than allowing the mortgage company to call the note?
Amazingly enough, yes… the Florida Market Assistance Program, who I immediately called. They took my info and referred me to three insurance agencies that claim they can find non-Citizen’s property insurance.
The end result? Instead of $3000, my new policy will cost me $1100. I haven’t had a policy that cheap since I had a spleen. Of course, this company is probably two guys in Mango who can’t pay a dime if my house blows down, but since I don’t believe insurance companies pay out on most claims anyway, what does it matter?