Citizens has taken a strange and hard stance against sinkhole claims recently and we think we know why. As of several months ago, word came down from Jacksonville where Citizens primary offics are that they were going to take a totally different and tough approach against homeowners. The “memo” that came down is an across the board, no exceptions hammer on several levels.
First and most importnantly, Citizens adjusters have basically been stripped of any ability to settle sinkhole claims for a lump sum settlement. Citizens has taken the stance that they are going to try to force all homeowners to repair their homes and to repair them the want Citizens wants them to. This means even in litigation Citizens is refusing to settle and taking every case in front of the state judges asking for a ruling that Citizens does not have to pay anything until the homeowner does the work. Citizens is guising this as the right and moral thing to do. Lets be honest, its about money. Citizens figures that if all homeowners are forced to repair their homes and can no longer reach settlements so they can use the money how they deem best used, people will stop pursuing lawsuits and lawyers will stop taking the cases. The result, Citizens saves a bunch of money. Is it really the right thing though to have complete control over the testing, the engineers, what will be covered and how much money will be paid out and then ask a judge to tell these homeonwers that they have no legal right to fight it?
Citizens has also decided it will essentially refuse to acknowledge the public adjusters that help homeowners or to agree to pay attorney fees when it seems appropriate. The though of course is that the harder they can make life for the public adjusters and lawyers, the less likely they will be to accept cases against Citizens. In other words, trying to get money out of Citizens is just too much work, I’ll pass on those cases. That’s not the case here at all in our firm. We welcome legitimate claims against Citizens and will be happy to fight every one to the end if need be.