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Realtors hail sinkhole insurance changes

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Published:   |   Updated: November 27, 2013 at 10:03 AM

NEW PORT RICHEY — More than 200 real estate leaders gathered here last week to learn more about changes in insurance coverage through Citizens Property Insurance for homes with previous sinkhole claims.

The agents from Pasco and Hernando counties filled the meeting hall at West Pasco Board of Realtors.

The changes have been in the works for about two years, according to Greg Armstrong, a longtime Board of Realtors member and official.

“We have 10,000-plus homes” in Pasco with some form of sinkhole claim in the past, Armstrong said in an interview after the meeting.

“This is going to put them back in the insurance market” and help individuals, communities and county tax base, Armstrong said.

“It’s really good news for everybody,” he added.

Victoria Barley, like Armstrong a past president of the Board of Realtors, said she knew of one Pasco home that is valued at $40,000 without insurance or $65,000 with insurance.

A chart produced by Citizens Property shows the state-backed insurer spends about 14.55 percent of every dollar in premium revenue paying sinkhole claims and claims adjusting costs.

For homes with a total loss from sinkhole activity, homeowners once again could obtain a standard Citizens policy, according to a chart from the Florida Association for Insurance Reform.

Standard policies, according to FAIR, include provisions for catastrophic ground collapse. Homes with a total loss could be eligible for the extended, sinkhole coverage endorsement.

Such homes also could apply for an HO-8 modified homeowners policy or DP-1 or DP-3 dwelling fire policies from Citizens.

Properties with partial sinkhole loss also could obtain the same four types of Citizens policies, but would not be eligible for the extended sinkhole coverage.

Homeowners with a prior sinkhole claim with no documentation of repairs would be restricted to DP-1 dwelling fire policies only.

State and county leaders appeared at the Realtors meeting to express support.

“There are solutions coming,” state Rep. Amanda Murphy, D-New Port Richey, said. “For once, government is helping in the process.”

Murphy, who won the District 36 House seat in a special election last month, plans on sending a bulletin to her constituents.

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