This blog has moved.

Please visit our new page here

« Talk is cheap. But gaffes could prove costly for Mitt Romney | Main | Newt Gingrich flubs turnout facts for Florida counties he won »

Citizens Insurance faces class-action lawsuit over home valuation practices

Citizens Property Insurance Corp. is facing more heat over its system for valuating replacement costs for homes.

Two groups have filed a class-action lawsuit against the state-run insurer, claiming that Citizens is using a software program, called 360Value, to overvalue the replacement costs of homeowners’ properties.

Florida Association for Insurance Reform  and the Beausoleil Law Group of Florida, who filed the lawsuit, charge that Citizens has used the 360Value system to raise rates on homeowners and “side-step” the legislative process for rate-raising.

Last year, Citizens told agents it would rely solely on its 360Value software for estimating the replacement cost of homes, and would no longer take into account estimates from real estate appraisers or independent general contractors. That sparked several complaints from homeowners who said their homes were being overvalued by the software.

A couple weeks back, Citizens reversed course on that decision.

The about-face came just days after a Tampa Bay Times story that documented seemingly high replacement cost values reached by 360-Value.

Still, plaintiffs are arguing that the giant insurer is using the system as a backdoor method to raise rates. Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, will join plaintiffs at the steps of the Old Capitol in Tallahassee on Tuesday afternoon to announce the lawsuit.

From the class-action lawsuit website

“Citizens has been and wants to continue increasing revenue and reserves without having to fight the Florida legislature for a rate increase.  They are literally sidestepping legislative action at the expense of the almost 1.5 million Florida taxpayers that are being forced to pay higher premiums because Citizens intentionally misrepresents property values.”