Tampa Bay Times Editorial
A steady drip usually signals bigger trouble, and this is no exception. Insurance claims and lawsuits for water damage are climbing, and the mess is spreading from South Florida to Tampa Bay. That means trouble for private insurers and the state-run Citizens Property Insurance Corp. And that means trouble for homeowners facing rising property insurance rates and the possibility of being forced to switch insurers.
When there’s water damage, there’s often a broken pipeline. In this case, it’s a broken system for filing and settling insurance claims under a process called assignment of benefits. As Citizens president and CEO Barry Gilway described it this week to the Times editorial board, here’s the problem: A homeowner finds a water leak in his or her house and calls a repair company. The repair company asks the homeowner to sign a form that allows the repair company to deal directly with the homeowner’s insurance company. For the homeowner, this sounds great: The repairs are made, the company deals with the insurance company to get paid and it’s all good….