90,000 Citizens reports for property-insurance discounts rejected

Inspections kicked back; $50 million added to customers’ bills.

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By Charles Elmore
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
WEST PALM BEACH —

Forget a few isolated cases.

More than 90,000 times, Florida’s last-resort insurer Citizens and its contractors rejected reports from inspectors they hired to determine whether customers qualified for property-insurance discounts, an analysis of more than 225,000 inspection records by The Palm Beach Post shows.

The bottom line after reports were kicked back: approximately $50 million in higher bills for customers.

The results have made homeowners furious. For some, annual premiums have doubled.

“This inspection process is a sham and an outrage,” said Harriet Golding of Palm Beach. “They seem to be shaking down their customers and hoping people won’t complain.”

Citizens spokeswoman Christine Turner Ashburn said, “The only purpose of this program is to make certain our policyholders receive the correct credits for the storm damage mitigation features present on their homes.”

Three out of four homeowners have lost credits for building features that harden homes against hurricanes, often raising bills far beyond the regular 1o percent annual rate increases Citizens is allowed by law. The massive campaign has affected about 250,000 homeowners, has raised premiums by more than $137 million and is ongoing.

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