Fla.’s Citizens Vows to be More Consumer Friendly

February 15, 2007

Citizens Property Insurance pledged this week to listen closely to its customers and have a new, more consumer-friendly way of doing business.

Gov. Charlie Crist and the Cabinet unanimously approved a proposed customer service plan for the state-run insurer that sells policies to people who can’t find private coverage.

Crist told the company last year to present the plan for dealing better with policyholders to the Cabinet. On Tuesday, he said the plan looked good.

“Hopefully it’s a precursor of a new attitude and a new way of doing things,” Crist.

Also Tuesday, Citizens said it has already closed 85 percent of the claims from the Groundhog Day tornadoes that hit central Florida on Feb. 2 – evidence of its new efforts to quickly get people their money.

In the past, Citizens customers complained the company didn’t settle claims quickly. In a special session on property insurance earlier this year, legislators pushed Citizens to hold public hearings, listen to customers and develop a customer-friendly business plan.

That plan is due to be finalized later this year, but likely will include the ideas outlined Tuesday. The plan outlines service improvements like having a turnaround time on written correspondence with customers of no more than five days.

Many of the items in the plan are things the company has already done, such as cutting phone wait time by more than 10 minutes, said Citizens spokesman Rocky Scott. The company will continue to hold hearings to get more feedback from customers, Citizens Chairman Bruce Douglas told the Cabinet.

Douglas also noted that the company now has 2,000 claims adjusters available in the event

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