MARION COUNTY, Fla. – News 6 broke the news several weeks ago that some insurers are dropping customers if their shingle roof is older than ten years.
Now, a Marion County woman says her hot water heater kept her from being insured.
Pamela Kelley says her property insurance problems started about a year ago when she received a notice of non-renewal; the company she had used for years was dropping her.
“Because I didn’t have a new roof, they terminated my insurance,” she said.
The reason for the cancellation — the “company reducing hurricane exposure,” according to the notice.
Kelley said she had paid on time for years and never filed a claim.
“I was shocked,” she said. “I really was.”
She also said the situation was stressful because shopping for new insurance wasn’t easy, according to Kelley.
“No one would write a new policy, is what I was told,” Kelley said.
She even replaced her 16-year-old roof but then was met with another problem, according to Kelley.
“No one would write a new policy for me until I installed a new hot water heater. Anything over 15 years old was considered a fire hazard,” Kelley said.
Charles Earp has been a licensed mechanical plumber in Florida since 1984.
“She has one of the top-of-the-line water heaters,” Earp told News 6.
When asked how long her water heater could last, “I would say anywhere from 10-to-20 years from now,” Earp said.
Based on the inspection, Kelley decided not to replace her water heater.
She found insurance, but it was more than double what she had been paying, she said.
“I was just sick because — to me — just that $200 being added to my mortgage every month, to a senior who’s on a fixed budget, that’s almost my whole month’s groceries,” Kelley said.
Paul Handerhan is with the Federal Association for Insurance Reform, aka FAIR.
“Insurance companies are taking a closer look at every single one of the risks that are coming into their book of business,” Handerhan said.
“The fact that they have been losing money over the last four or five years has been triggering them to really take a more conservative approach to their underwriting,” Handerhan said.
Kelley, who is 68 years old and retired, said it is exactly why law makers need to take action.
“I feel that they’ve done basically nothing to try to help the people here,” Kelley said.
We asked what Kelley would do if her rates increased again.
“I’m gonna have to go back to work,” she said.
According to people in the industry, insurers are taking a hard look at everything: the age of your appliances, the age of your air conditioning unit, electrical panels and more.
Florida lawmakers have a special legislative session planned to start May 23 to deal with property insurance reform.