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Tuesday, January 18 2022

Citizens Property Insurance Corp. is reminding agents that it is greatly expanding the number of property inspections, starting this month, in an effort to reduce its exposure.

The inspections will come at no cost to the policyholder, and will be done by third-party inspection services. Agents will be notified and will be asked to verify the policyholder’s contact information. If property owners refuse to allow inspectors to have access to the property, the policy may be canceled or non-renewed, Citizens said in a bulletin posted last week.

Citizens, Florida’s property insurer of last resort, announced in October that it would increase the number of inspections almost 70-fold over the next four years. The number of inspections will jump from about 5,200 in 2020 to more than 350,000 by 2025.

The move will cost some $43 million, but Citizen officials say it is needed to stem the flood of new policyholders that have flocked to Citizens in recent years, as other insurers have raised rates, become insolvent, or stopped writing in Florida.

The program is a huge shift for Citizens and will take the insurer from inspecting about 1% of its policyholder properties in 2020 to more than 20% by 2025. Ultimately, some policyholders will end up paying higher premiums or spending more on repair work to bring homes up to par.

A Citizens spokesman said the motivation behind the increased inspections is not necessarily to cancel or non-renew policies.

“Our primary goal is to determine that properties are accurately and appropriately insured with Citizens by making sure that properties meet minimum standards,” said MIchael Peltier, media relations manager. “This will also make it easier for private companies looking at Citizens policies for take out offers because they will have up-to-date property information.”

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