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Citizens is transferring St Petersburg home insurance policies

Several people in our Broadwater waterfront neighborhood of St Petersburg have been calling to say that Citizens Property Insurance dropped them and wondered what to do. We, too,received a notice from a new insurance company saying they were taking over our policy. We're referring here to general homeowner's insurance, not flood insurance.

Some people don't realize that they still have an option. They can decline the switch and stay with Citizens. That's what we decided to do. To be safe, we notified the new company by both email and regular mail that we were opting to stay with Citizens. We had to sign a notice that we knew our premiums might be higher and that our coverage may be lower if we stayed with Citizens.

In the past, some of the companies taking policies from Citizens have not been financially sound. Admittedly, I didn't check out the financial stability of this particular company. I decided that the devil I know is better than the devilI don't.

If you received a notice that an insurance company is taking you out of Citizens for your home here in St Pete – I'm not telling you what to do, only what I did. The point is, you do have a choice!

p.s. I hope Florida will opt out of the National Flood Insurance and if private insurance companies don't come forward, that Florida will set up a Citizens-like flood insurance. Florida has paid in over $16 billion in premiums and received less than $4 billion in claims. To now face some premium jumps to ten times the amount of past annual premium is incredible. People who own their home free and clear can opt out of flood insurance and self insure. Those with a mortgage cannot. So you choose to buy in a non-flood zone? You have no guarantee that when the flood maps are redrawn that you will not then be in a flood zone.


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Is an “as is” offer good for a St Petersburg home seller?

 Often, when a Seller receives an “as is” offer on his home in St Petersburg, his first thought is, “Great. That means I won’t have to make any repairs.”  Well, not necessarily.

In most cases the contract will provide for the buyer to have a home inspection done. In the typical Florida FAR/BAR contract, there is a clause that “If Buyer determines, in Buyer’s sole discretion, that this property is not acceptable to Buyer, Buyer may terminate this contract”. So, it’s correct that the Seller isn’t obligated to make any repairs, but the buyer also isn’t obligated to buy the property. Rather than just walking away, (though that happens sometimes, too) the Buyer may point out things that he’s not satisfied with and offer to go ahead with the purchase if the Seller fixes certain things, or if the Seller reduces the price or gives a credit for certain repairs. This often leads to a second round of negotiating. In effect, then, with an “as is” contract, the buyer is getting a 10 day “free look” at the property, to decide if he really does want to buy this house for the price already agreed upon.

In addition to buyer requests, other parties may get involved in repair issues. If the purchase is subject to a loan, the underwriter – who often doesn’t get involved until a day or two before closing – may require certain repairs to be done before closing, even if the buyer and seller have agreed that those repairs don’t need to be done. 

The insurance company may also get involved. On older homes, the insurance company will require a “four point inspection”. The insurer may object to the type of wiring in a house, or the estimated remaining life of the roof (even though the roof doesn’t leak). If the purchase is subject to a loan, the lender will require insurance on the home. If the insurer won’t insure without the repairs, the lender won’t loan the money, and the closing won’t happen.

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