Citizens Insurance gives UPC customers more time to get a policy

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Thousands of United Property and Casualty Insurance (UPC) customers with Hurricane Ian damaged homes are struggling to find another insurance company to protect their homes in the future.

Now, Citizens Property Insurance hopes some newly announced rule changes will help. They’re extending deadlines and giving people more time to prove they are working on fixing their homes.

The only problem is many don’t have the money to start repairs or construction.

After paying UPC to insure her Port Charlotte home for 18 years, Barbara Pellegrino feels tossed aside after filing her hurricane claim.

“You expect when you pay for insurance, that’s a service. So, when and if you have to use it, it should be there. I’m finding it hard to believe that it’s not there,” said Pellegrino.

The company went under, and while she waits for the Florida Insurance Guaranty Association to step in, she’s paid out of pocket for home repairs.

Roofers started last week. Pellegrino’s next hurdle; finding another insurance company to protect her home before hurricane season 2023 picks up.

“The only way you can get insurance is if you have a perfect house, and that’s where I have my problem because I don’t have a perfect house right now,” said Pellegrino.

Most former UPC customers will have to turn to Citizens Property Insurance, the state’s insurer of last resort.

“My broker is actually dealing with Citizens for me,” Pellegrino said.

On Wednesday, Citizens announced changes to some of its rules to give people like Pellegrino more time. They have until April 17 to get a policy. But when it comes to repairs?

“We are allowing UPC applicants who have existing damage to their home 90 days to submit a contract to repair the damage. We think this is the right thing to do, and it can help those who are still suffering hardship in the aftermath of Ian,” said Timothy Cerio, president and CEO of Citizens Property Insurance.

Charlotte County insurance agent Kevin Feuser believes this still means many homeowners will fall through the cracks. Most contractors require a deposit.

“They don’t have the money yet from their insurance company. So, if a contract is done and they need to pay, they won’t have the money to pay. So many of them are reluctant to do that. Therefore, they don’t have the contract or statement. Therefore, Citizens is not willing to write them a policy,” Feuser said.

As a result, many have nowhere to turn.

“They could have a mortgage. We’re already hearing that some of the mortgage companies are forced to place coverage on them. But that’s not a good alternative,” said Feuser.

A Citizens spokesperson told WINK News the company understands everyone’s concerns which is why they are giving those UPC customers 90 days.

MORE: UPC Insurance closed with your open claim. Now what?

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