Citizens Property Insurance Corporation recently announced that it will begin offering homeowners insurance to properties that were previously damaged by sinkhole activity. This announcement was praised by insurance agents and real estate professionals as crucial to protect the marketability of homes in central Florida.
In the past, property owners would often have trouble obtaining property insurance for their homes after the conclusion of their sinkhole claim. Even though the homes were fully repaired, some insurance companies would claim that their underwriting guidlines prohibited the issuance of policies to homes that had undergone sinkhole repair. Although such underwriting guidelines are specious at best (and more likely for the purpose of avoiding the issuance of new policies in general), it created an insurance crisis for the homeowner and hurt the resale value of these homes.
In reality, providing insurance coverage to previously repaired homes does not create any additional exposure for the insurance company. Almost all homeowner’s policies contain pre-existing damage exclusions which would restrict or disallow covereage for any damage which arose prior to the inception of the insurance policy.
Apparently Citizens has seen the light on this issue and has come to the aid of Florida homeowners. Michael Peltier, spokesman for Citizens Property Insurance, stated in a recent article that, ” We’re trying to do as much as we can to be as flexible as we can to give people as much property insurance coverage as is possible.” Reportedly, Citizens will offer full insurance coverage (including sinkhole loss coverage) to properties that previously underwent sinkhole repairs and were repaired per the insurance company’s recommendations. Citizens will also offer insurance policies (excluding sinkhole coverage) to properties which were fully repaired, but via methods other than the repairs recommended by the original insurance company.
Citizens’ announcement should go a long way to stabilizing the values of homes in the Florida marketplace. Since nearly all mortgage companies mandate homeowners insurance as a condition to providing financing, the inability to obtain insurance caused many potential real estate deals to fall apart at the last minute. Now, Citizens’ new guidelines will allow these buyers to obtain the necessary property insurance in order to qualify for these loans.