How the Home Watch Industry can help with the Florida insurance crisis
According to reports, since 2017, six Florida insurance companies have become insolvent, with two more in the process of following suit. While the amount of fraudulent roofing claims and the litigation surrounding them is seemingly “the straw that broke the camel’s back,” by pushing insurance companies past their limits in today’s market, historically it has been water damage and hurricane losses which have been the biggest burden for property and casualty companies in the Sunshine State. With estimates of 1.7 million vacant homes in Florida, many of which are unoccupied second and vacation homes, issues gone undiscovered while homeowners are out of the state or area have certainly added to what has become an insurmountable burden placed on these companies, causing them to stop writing homeowner’s insurance in Florida. And that adds more risk to the already overburdened, state-sponsored Citizens Property Insurance Company.
The National Home Watch Association is a trade association with hundreds of members in the state of Florida. We believe that once Home Watch is recognized by the State of Florida as a risk mitigation service based on regular visits and timely reporting of obvious issues to clients, not only can the amount of property claims be reduced, but the dollar amount of the claims submitted could be substantially less because potentially undiscovered problems may be discovered because of a scheduled visit. We believe that property and casualty providers in the state of Florida should require an accredited—properly insured, bonded, and educated—Home Watch company to check on second and vacation homes in order to acquire and retain homeowner’s insurance. There are already companies that require “someone” to check on an unoccupied home, but that someone can be anyone—a neighbor, friend or one of the countless people calling themselves home watchers who are un/underinsured, uneducated, and unbonded. These choices offer no recourse to the homeowners whose homes they have been entrusted with. This requirement has obviously not been effective. We believe that employing an Accredited Home Watcher could make all the difference and relieve the burden on for-profit insurance companies, thereby allowing policies to be written by them and not forcing Citizens Property Insurance Company to carry additional risk.
With the Eastern storm season beginning June 1, Governor Ron Desantis has ordered the Florida Legislature to take part in a Special Session that will address the current insurance crisis later this month. The National Home Watch Association is happy to discuss our accreditation process, requirements, standards, and available training with any Legislator or insurance company interested in speaking with us.
Jack Luber, Founder & Executive Director, National Home Watch Association (NHWA)
Steven Stiffler, Chair, NHWA Government Relations Committee, Florida Member of the NHWA Advisory Board
Doris Fink, Florida Member of the NHWA Advisory Board
Carl Lorenzini, Florida Member of the NHWA Advisory Board
A little about the National Home Watch Association: The NHWA was formed in 2009 in order to establish and maintain the highest industry standards for Home Watch and absentee homeowner services throughout the United States and Canada (www.nationalhomewatchassociation.org).