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Citizens proposes settlement for sinkhole litigation


WINTER PARK, Fla. – Dec. 13, 2013 – Citizens Property Insurance Corp., the Florida-owned company, began sending letters this week to hundreds of policyholders who are disputing repair recommendations surrounding sinkhole claims.

Of the 2,100 disputed sinkhole claims, 1,329 deal with disagreements over repair methods.

The proposal encourages policyholders to have necessary repair work completed on their claim in accordance with an original engineer’s recommendations, but it also offers an alternative resolution process for cases in which engineering opinions differ.

As required by Florida law, Citizens requires sinkhole repairs to be completed in accordance with a qualified engineer’s recommendation, and the insurer makes payments after a contractor has been employed and work begun.

Under the proposed settlement agreement, homeowners disputing the original engineer’s recommended repair method can bring their recommendation to a neutral evaluator, who will review the repair options and render a decision. Citizens says it will abide by the evaluator’s determination.

The proposal says that Citizens will reimburse policyholders for additional remediation work that may be needed after sinkhole repairs begin. In addition, the proposal states that Citizens will cover any additional cosmetic repairs resulting from the remediation process.

Citizens Board of Governors Chairman Chris Gardner praised Sen. Wilton Simpson, R-Trilby, for unveiling the new proposal, which attempts to encourage appropriate repair efforts and reduce the need for litigation.

“We use the phrase ‘put grout in the ground’ to emphasize that we want the recommended repair work completed quickly and properly, and in accordance with professional recommendations,” Gardner said. “We believe this proposal will help policyholders make their property safe for themselves, their family and their neighbors.”

© 2013 Florida Realtors®

Related Topics: Property insurance