Clearwater condo owners get a break from Citizens - WFLA News Channel 8

Clearwater condo owners get a break from Citizens

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The condo owners at Island Escape on Clearwater Beach didn't know what to do when Citizens Insurance notified them earlier this year their windstorm policy had lapsed and insurance premiums would increase 400% if they wanted to renew it.

"We're getting squeezed and it's not fun," condo treasurer Steve Anderson told News Channel Eight in May.

But after News Channel Eight got involved and starting asking questions their fortunes changed.

"One guy from Citizens told us he didn't want to be on the news any more," said Anderson. "That was pretty funny."

Citizens wasn't totally to blame for the mammoth increase.

The condo's management company had failed to pay the annual premium and when the policy lapsed that opened the door for Citizens to raise the cost as much as it deemed necessary.

The state-mandated 10% limit on annual increases no longer applied.

But four days after News Channel Eight aired a story on Island Escape's insurance troubles a team from Citizens met with condo owners and agreed to limit the increase to a manageable 20% for a total of about $5500.

That was far better than the $18,000 Citizens had originally quoted the owners.

"If you hadn't done anything we'd probably still be in our predicament right now," Anderson told News Channel Eight.

Island Escape now has until next June to find another windstorm insurance provider, otherwise the cost under Citizens will soar to $18,000.

"We have a year to shop around and hopefully we can get something going by the time that year is done," said Anderson.

Owners say their counting on the insurance market to open up by next year.

"We're hoping we can get some competition down in our area and people can start enjoying decent insurance rates again," said Anderson.

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