Citizens Rescinds Non-Renewal Notice For Florida Home With Toxic Chinese Drywall, Says It Was ‘Erroneously Generated’ By Its Computer System
Attorney and Advocate David Durkee Vows to Continue Fight to Ensure Homeowners Insurance Coverage, Protection for all Florida Chinese Drywall Victims
Following media coverage of an apparent threat from Citizens Property Insurance Corporation to non-renew coverage for a Florida home built with toxic Chinese drywall, the state’s insurer of last resort yesterday issued a letter claiming the nonrenewal notice was “erroneously generated by [Citizens’] computer system and has been rescinded.” The letter addressed to homeowners James and Maria Ivory was sent a day after their attorney David Durkee provided a news conference at his office.
Durkee, partner with the Florida law firm Roberts & Durkee who currently represents almost 300 Chinese drywall victims throughout the state, also initiated a letter-writing campaign to government officials, including Senator Bill Nelson who responded by voicing support for the Ivories and other Chinese drywall victims.
“We are glad Citizens acknowledged its mistake and we hope it was an isolated incident that will not be repeated,” Durkee said. “After several unsuccessful attempts to reach Citizens, we decided to call a news conference because time was critical before the March 2011 non-renewal came into effect.” But Durkee is still concerned about Citizens sending similar notices sent to homeowners, particularly as many have had to move out of their homes to escape the toxic China-made drywall. In the letter, Citizens tells the victims: “Leaving a property vacant with no intention of repairing damage to the property, may result in the property becoming ineligible for coverage with Citizens, regardless of the reason for the vacancy.” The letter claims the homeowners will receive a renewal package within 10 days.
“If this is happening to the Ivory family, it is probably happening to other families. Because many of these homeowners are not currently living in their contaminated homes and not receiving their mail on time, we are concerned many might not find out on time. The Ivory family itself didn’t receive the letter, which was originally sent to them in September 2010, until this week, because it did not arrive on time at their new mailing address. It’s unfortunate that families without a strong advocate representing them would have to deal with the consequences, which ultimately could cost them their homes,” Durkee added.
This is the second time Citizens has issued a non-renewal notice to the Ivory couple. In 2009, the Ivory family received its first non-renewal notice and shortly thereafter, other families received similar letters. When the national media began questioning Citizens about its decision, the insurer rescinded its decision and issued a new policy. The Ivory family had bought the newly built three-bedroom home for approximately $150,000 in 2009 as a Florida retirement home to live near their grandchildren. Shortly after moving in, they noticed a rotten-egg smell, appliances failing and copper air conditioner coils turning black, and they began suffering adverse health reactions, including severe headaches, dizziness and rashes. After living there six weeks, they had to move out.
“It’s frustrating and sad, and it’s not how we envisioned our retirement days,” James Ivory said. “We bought the home to be closer to our grandchildren, and we can’t live there. We encourage other families going through the same fight with Citizens to make sure they have all the facts regarding their insurance coverage and to seek legal counsel if they are concerned.”