Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Killing Citizens

Trying to kill the beast is proving harder than expected.

Or is it an intentional suicide ?

The strange (but perhaps normal as Florida is governed)  purpose of eliminating a perfectly functioning publicly sponsored Insurance Company  is proving harder than expected.

All the tricky ways to induce or to plainly force home owners into unknown private insurance companies is meeting a mass resistance from many property owners.

I never understood why Citizens (which re-insures a good part of its policies) is supposedly incapable of doing a good job at insuring homes if we get hit by a major hurricane, while other smaller companies could do it safely and pay their claims with no risks to the insured. 

About 20 years ago I was in the business of importing merchandise and I suffered a 100% loss of a whole cargo that arrived at Miami Airport.  The goods had been insured by the sellers in a California insurance company.
Guess what!  
When I made my claim this insurance company was in bankruptcy. I didn’t get a penny.  Just to inform you that Insurance companies can also take you for a ride. 

Safer than Citizens?  No way I can believe that.  

Citizens proved in previous hurricanes that it can do a perfect job; it paid its claims; it didn’t raise sensibly its premiums.  

And how do we know that in a future, confronted with heavy losses when hit by a sizable windstorm, these new companies will not just abandon and walk out of Florida?  The largest insurance companies have done it in the past, everybody knows that.

But it is too late now to save the victim.  

Just read the article I found on on Sept. 30, 2015

Fewer owners ditching Citizens for private insurance

Customers in Florida's state-run and largest insurer are getting choosier.

Fewer than half are accepting offers to switch to private insurers this year, down from 70 percent a year ago at Citizens Property Insurance Corp., records disclosed at a meeting Tuesday show.
Though 1.2 million transfer offers have been approved by regulators this year, just 141,680 customers have actually switched, records show. That's a significant slowing from record departures in recent years that have seen the company downsize from 1.5 million customers to 585,000, including about 60,000 in Palm Beach County.

The changes come as the company phases out, for example, warnings in letters to customers about 45 percent storm taxes if they stick with Citizens. The Palm Beach Post probed how unlikely such assessments have become after a storm, and noted the letters fail to mention customers could be charged another kind of storm tax if they switch to private carriers who fail.

Private insurers have continued to use the bold-faced warning nearly half a year after Citizens said it would cease, although officials said it is on the way out for upcoming offers.

To be clear, private insurers have not been making all the offers allowed by regulators, sometimes because they covet the same customers or simply choose not to act. In June, for example, private insurers did not make any of their 45,500 approved offers.

Still, out of the about 300,000 offers companies made in 2015, 47 percent have been accepted, records show. The outcome from about 46,000 offers in September is not yet known.
The acceptance rate declined from 69 percent in January to as low as 35 percent in March. It averaged 70 percent in 2014.

Why? Some of it has to do with a shift in the mix of customers remaining in Citizens that has created "uncertainty" in the acceptance rate, said Barry Gilway, Citizens' chief executive.

"It's very hard to nail down what that the ultimate takeout rate is going to be," Gilway told the company's depopulation committee Tuesday, a day ahead of a meeting of the company's full board.

Many customers with standard home policies, often priced close to what private insurers want, have already left. That leaves a higher proportion of others like coastal, wind-only and mobile home residents who may find fewer offers close to Citizens prices.

State-approved transfer offers differ from ordinary marketing pitches because consumers are automatically switched if they do nothing.

Gov. Rick Scott vetoed a bill passed unanimously this spring that would have beefed up consumer protections on Citizens offers. 

That has not slowed calls for consumers to get clearer information about what private insurers intend to charge.  Citizens officials noted Tuesday they are working to see that an estimated premium appears in certain October letters related to the offers.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Mixed Used Project by NewGard Development

Newgard Development Group unveils


Mixed-use project at Miami Worldcenter.

Newgard Development Group has unveiled details of the 48-story, mixed-use tower it plans to build as part of the massive Miami Worldcenter project in Overtown.

Greenberg Traurig attorney Iris Escarra said the tower would be on the north side of the 30-acre project – between the mall and the convention center and just south of the NAP of the Americas. It would total 1.7 million square feet with two towers atop a parking deck.

Newgard Development Group’s project would have 897 apartments, 344 hotel rooms, 38,850 square feet of office space, 21,200 square feet of retail and restaurants, and 1,100 parking spaces. Escarra said the retail and restaurants would be on the ground floor. 

There would be an amenity deck atop the parking garage the separates the two towers, which would be divided for hotel and apartment uses, she said.

This is the first office space confirmed at Miami Worldcenter. 

The project will also include the Paramount condominium tower, a hotel convention center, and a mall. 
Also on Wednesday, the UDRB will consider the 872-unit, 43-story apartment tower at Miami Worldcenter by ZOM.

Newgard is now developing the famous THE GALE RESIDENCES in FORT LAUDERDALE

Newgard is the developer of the Brickell House and One Flagler buildings in Downtown Miami.

Information read in the South Florida Business Journal. 

For information about New Construction in South Florida please call:


(800) 416-2747
(954) 296-6741

For all South Florida exciting pre-construction projects and new construction for sale
please visit my website:

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Citizens Insurance rate hikes full steam ahead.

Less than a week ago, I wrote about the hopeless fight of Florida Insurance Consumer Advocate against incoming rate hikes at Citizens. 
The State Regulatory Office not only approved but increased on the request of Citizens for certain policies. 
Against public hearing advice; against the public advocate's advice,
this is the type of decision that do not benefit middle class and the dream of home-ownership. 
And it's just the beginning.

Read what we read on the subject at

State regulators approve Citizens rate hikes

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Sept. 9, 2015

State-owned Citizens Property Insurance Corp. received approval for 2016 rate changes on Tuesday, with some tweaks to their original proposal that's expected to spread additional costs to policyholders in coastal areas.

The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation approved average rate changes equating to 1.8 percent on residential multi-peril accounts – an increase from the 1.3 percent requested by Citizens. The office also set an average 8.3 percent increase for residential wind-only policies; Citizens had asked for 9 percent.

"The office modified some of Citizens' recommended rates to address key issues cited as causes for increasing homeowners' insurance costs for policyholders in South Florida and on the coast," Citizens said in a release.

The new rates will vary by county and a property's location, home style and type of policy. There's a great chance policyholders in Southeast Florida will see a rate increase compared to homeowners in other parts of the state.

Even with the rate increases, Citizens expects overall rates to come down for about 60 percent of its policyholders. The order includes no changes for sinkhole coverage, though it increases rates on mobile home coverage.

The order, which came two weeks after a public hearing on Citizens' 2016 rate proposal, also advises Citizens not to pass the cost of reinsurance on to policyholders; instead, reinsurance should be treated as an expense, according to Citizens spokesman Michael Peltier. Reinsurance is effectively backup coverage for insurers if they're called up to cover large claims.

Florida insurance consumer advocate Sha'Ron James had earlier asked Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty to "strongly consider" the large amount of reinsurance purchased by Citizens before making any decision on the company's requested rate hike.

Citizens President and CEO Barry Gilway argued during last month's public hearing that a "disturbing" rise in water-damage claims in South Florida had driven the need for much of the proposed rate increases.

Citizens entered the six-month Atlantic storm season with a $7.5 billion surplus, the highest in its history, and $3.9 billion in reinsurance coverage from private, offshore firms.
The new rates go into effect Feb. 1.

Henry B. Nathan 

is a realtor at

United Realty Group Inc. 

Please call me for all your needs at

(800) 416-2747  -  (954) 296-6741

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

The Gale Residences Fort Lauderdale

We have been following this development on Fort Lauderdale Beach for some time now.

What's most attractive, compared to other projects, is that the rental restrictions are kept at a minimum, allowing local residents, vacation home buyers, investors to all find it interesting.

Let's explain the reason. 

At The Gale Fort Lauderdale, if you plan to be living all year in your apartment, you will have a minimal intrusion of short term tenants since all the Gale Hotel suites, rooms, facilities, amenities, will be kept completely separate from the Condo Residences.  

Owners should be allowed to occupy their unit and enjoy tax homestead exemption.

Another alternative would be (for an investor) to rent his unit for one year term through a realtor, rent it by month, by week, or even by day through online reservations such as or 

A third alternative could be to place the property in The Gale Hotel rental program.

If unsatisfied with a course of action, an owner can always change his mind.

Being an condominium association separated from the Gale Hotel,  the expenses of the Gale Residences won't be charged with any part of the hotel costs, which happens often typical Condo-Hotel situations. That could keep the condo (HOA) fees at a lower level.

The value of their apartment could also be affected by the reputation of the contiguous hotel.
The Gale Hotel in Fort Lauderdale will be a boutique hotel and the reputation of The Gale Hotel in South Beach, or the Bentley, which are owned by the same company is a testimony 
to the quality of this investment. 
Menin Hospitality is in fact the owner of about 15 hotels and restaurants in Miami and Chicago. And it seems as most of them are success stories.

In fact, some buyers at Gale Fort Lauderdale made their decision based on their good impression when they spent a night or visited The Gale South Beach.

Take a look at the exquisite boutique hotel THE GALE  SOUTH BEACH.
Click the following video:
For more information and reservations at


Please call:

(800) 416-2747
(954) 296-6741

For all South Florida exciting pre-construction projects and new construction for sale
please visit my website:

Thursday, September 03, 2015

Citizens Insurance New Rates questioned

Kudos to our advocate! 

I totally agree with our Insurance advocate.

Everything was working out fine. Citizens was doing a great job. It handled well all claims during the last storms; And Citizens was even able to put together an adequate reserve fund.

Then the private insurers that had deserted us Floridians a few years ago as soon as they had a taste of substantial losses, came back after more than a decade.  Apparently the business wasn’t so bad after all. Citizens was created because Insurance companies did not want to insure our homes; that's the bottom line.  But they found up that Florida wasn't that bad and that they could generate enormous profits off Citizens' demise.

They (by way of their lobbyist, I guess) forced Citizens into giving up a large part of its policies to a bunch of companies – unknown of most of us.  

And now Citizens is starting to do what   all these new insurance companies will soon start to do on us:(you can bet on it: Come back periodically with rate hikes, which we thought were a thing of the past.  

Want to think of a parallel?  What if Medicare was forced to privatize and leave to private insurance the task of covering senior citizens health?  

I can surely affirm that what is now an excellent coverage would soon degrade into a bureaucratic mess, cost double, and hike up our contributions every year.

I just read today in 

Florida consumer advocate questions Citizens’ rate hike

Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty to "strongly consider" the large amount of reinsurance purchased by the state-backed Citizens Property Insurance – and to do it before the Florida-owned firm makes a decision about its requested 3.2 percent rate hike.

Consumer advocate Sha'Ron James also asked McCarty in a letter Monday to review Citizens' debt financing and water-loss claims before setting rates for 2016.

Reinsurance is essentially backup coverage purchased by insurers – an insurance policy for insurers.

"The purchase of additional reinsurance has led to the need for increased premiums, despite the decrease in the number of policies and the significant reduction in reinsurance costs worldwide," James wrote to McCarty. 

She questions whether the level of reinsurance Citizens carries "exceeds the level of adequacy needed to fulfill its obligation to its current policyholders."

The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation is currently reviewing the rate hike request. The new rates would vary by county and depend on a property's location, the home's style, and the type of policy.

Yesterday, the chief risk officer for Citizens Property Insurance sent a letter back to James defending the proposed rate hike.

"Citizens has secured enough reinsurance, at historically low rates, to blunt the possibility of assessments even in a benchmark severe event, known as the '100-year storm,'" Rollins said in his letter. "Better yet, much of this $6.9 billion in protection kicks in more often for smaller storms, such as a named storm with a 10 percent chance of striking each year, and it covers the case of multiple storms in a season."

According to Rollins, Floridians would have paid $11.5 billion in assessments if a 100-year storm hit four years ago, but today they would likely pay nothing.

Citizens President and CEO Barry Gilway contended last month that a "disturbing" rise in water-damage claims in South Florida has driven the need for the proposed rate increase.

Henry B. Nathan

United Realty Group Inc.

  (954) 296-6741   –  (80) 416-2747

I am a Licensed Realtor in South Florida, specializing in pre-construction
and luxury real estate.
Please visit my websites: