Clearwater condo owners get big bills from Citizens - WJBF-TV ABC 6 Augusta-Aiken News, Weather, Sports

Clearwater condo owners get big bills from Citizens

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CLEARWATER, FL (WFLA) -

No one is surprised these days to learn their Citizens hurricane premium is going up.

But owners of the Island Escape Condominiums on Island Estates in Clearwater Beach gasped when they received their latest bill.

The premium, quoted as recently as November by Citizens for about $4600, had gone up to more than $19,000 due to changing standards and a lapsed windstorm policy.

"This is just insane," said Island Escape Board Secretary Steve Anderson.  "Absolutely insane."

Florida law normally prevents Citizens from hiking premiums more than 10% from year to year.  But the management company that was suppose to pay the premium for the condo association failed to do so and the policy lapsed.

"They didn't even pay the bill when they got their second warning," said Anderson.

That set in motion a re-application process and another inspection mandated by Citizens.

Citizens spokesman Mike Peltier said the insurer has changed the way it evaluates and rates roof structures, and ended up downgrading the rating for Island Escape's roof, which accounts for most of the premium increase.

"Under the clarified guidelines, the roof's wind resistance rating was changed to more accurately reflect its wooden construction and wind resistance," said Peltier.

The condo owners hired their own inspector which gave the structure a "superior wind resistive construction" rating.  They now hope Citizens will lower their premium based on that report.

Meanwhile, they are heading into hurricane season without any windstorm insurance for the first time in the 25 years since the condos were built.

"It doesn't feel good at all," said Anderson. "We're getting squeezed and it's not fun."

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