Citizens backs off controversial software program to calculate replacement costs
Citizens Property Insurance customers now have a lot more options for calculating what it would cost to rebuild their homes in the event of a hurricane.
After public outcry and media scrutiny, Citizens backed off late Friday from sole use of a controversial software program to calculate home replacement costs, a process that some critics called a back-door way to raise homeowners' rates.
Instead, the state-run company, by far the biggest property insurer in Florida, said it will now accept a range of alternatives, including outside appraisals, for estimating the cost of rebuilding homes damaged in a hurricane.
"We believe that providing these options gives our policyholders and agents more confidence in the valuation process while providing policyholders with adequate protection for their homes," Scott Wallace, Citizens' president, CEO and executive director, said in a statement.
In a story on Sunday, the Tampa Bay Times documented cases where homeowners were battling Citizens over estimates that valued their properties not only far above market value, but also far higher than what independent appraisers said it would cost to rebuild. Higher valuations can translate into higher rates.