Citizens Property Reduces Fla. Complaints, Improves Customer Service

January 5, 2005

Citizens Property Insurance Corporation has closed more than 81 percent of outstanding residential claims and taken strides to reduce consumer complaints, Citizens officials announced today. The improvements come in response to a recent order from state Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher requiring Citizens to address customer service.

“Citizens has struggled with customer service as we dealt with a massive influx of claims from four major hurricanes,” Bob Ricker, Citizens’ executive director said. “I’m pleased to report that we’ve taken steps to address delays in the claims handling process and improve customer service.”

Citizens has resolved more than 4,000 consumer complaints, including more than 1,100 in the last 21 days. In addition, a small percentage — an estimated 350 — of consumers have requested mediation related to a dispute with Citizens. Citizens is committed to providing a fair resolution in all mediation cases.

The vast majority of consumer complaints involve delays in dealing with adjusters, stemming directly from a statewide shortage of adjusters. In the period prior to the four devastating hurricanes this year, Citizens maintained a detailed disaster response plan, which included the use of eight independent adjusting firms to handle catastrophic claims, including customer service. When those resources proved inadequate to fully serve policyholders, Citizens created in late September the Catastrophe Operations Center, a comprehensive claims management headquarters. Since taking this action, adjuster complaints have dropped by nearly 40 percent.

The center is staffed with more than 400 full time adjusters and staff, including 150 field adjusters, charged with managing the resolution of more than 115,000 claims and quickly assisting consumers, including assigning a new adjuster to handle the claim. As of Dec. 31, Citizens has reassigned more than 6,800 claims due to consumer complaints regarding adjuster delays or mishandling.

In addition to responding to consumer complaints Citizens has taken proactive steps to reach out to policyholders with outstanding claims. Though a majority of Citizens outstanding claims are considered complex claims, which include commercial residential claims, commercial claims and claims involving a combination of flood and wind damages, Citizens recently made more than 2,000 outbound calls to policyholders with claims more than 45 days old to determine customer satisfaction.

Citizens also took great strides to reduce its number of un-inspected claims. For all claims filed as of Nov. 30, Citizens has made a good faith effort to reach 100 percent of policyholders and completed inspections in more than 95 percent of claims. Of the remainder, the consumer may not have been available because the property was a secondary residence or the inspection may have been scheduled for a later date. In some cases, the consumer hired a public adjuster who postponed the inspection.

Citizens announced the above improvements at a meeting of the Citizens Task Force, created by Gallagher to recommend improvements to better prepare Citizens for the next hurricane season.

“We welcome further discussion and recommendations from the Task Force,” said Ricker. “We have come a long way in a short time in terms of our improvements. From the beginning, our goal has always been to find better ways to assist consumers as quickly as possible.”

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