Homeowner says Citizens Insurance low-balled him on sinkhole claim

Investigations

A Hillsborough man who says he trusted Citizens Insurance Corporation to do the right thing about his sinkhole claim now believes the company set up to protect Florida homeowners took advantage of him.

John Munoz filed a sinkhole claim back in 2011. His house was literally cracking open, from the inside and the out.

Seven years after filing the claim, Mr. Munoz contends Citizens is low-balling him on repairs.

“It galls me that they can get away with something like this knowingly,” said Mr. Munoz.

Citizens is getting away with it because, on the advice of his attorney, John Munoz signed a settlement in 2014, waiving his rights to sue the company. 

“It basically takes us out of any opportunity to pursue this as an unfair settlement,” explained Mr. Munoz. 

Two companies provided estimates that state it would cost about $200,000 to restore the Munoz house.

Mr. Munoz points out that Citizens based its offer to repair his broken home on a flawed estimate that came in at about $104,000.

“They were aware that the estimate that they’re using as one of the baseline estimates was inadequate, and it was incomplete,” stated Mr. Munoz. 

The estimate in question left a few things out.

“I had a pool cage – a screened cage on the back of my house over the deck, they totally left that off their estimate,” he said.

Munoz complained 170 other items were either incorrectly estimated, misplaced or missed.

“In their estimate for the cracks on the outside of my house, they listed a total of 60 linear feet. I have over 300 and something – 316 feet of cracks on the outside,” claimed Mr. Munoz. 

Citizens assured him it would adjust the lower estimate. It did, by roughly $30,000. That is still $65,000 short.  

“I would not be able to restore my house back to what it was before and that’s all I ever asked of them,” said Mr. Munoz.

The Florida legislature created Citizens in 2002 because insurance companies were dropping homeowners all over the state.  

Its purpose: Serve the needs of property owners who cannot find coverage in the private market.

John Munoz thinks something else is driving Citizens now.

“It’s all about money with them,” said Mr. Munoz.

Efforts to contact Citizens were unsuccessful.

If you know of something that should be investigated, call our Target 8 Helpline at 1-800-338-0808 or contact Steve Andrews at sandrews@wfla.com.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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