Florida Keys News - Key West Citizen
Saturday, March 23, 2013
8 firms interested in Keys windstorm study

Eight firms have expressed interest in conducting a study to determine the windstorm insurance risk in the Florida Keys.

The firms responded to a request for qualifications issued by the grass-roots group FIRM (Fair Insurance Rates in Monroe County). The sealed responses were opened Friday.

Three Florida Keys firms responded: Industry and Environment Engineering Consulting of Key Largo, Solaria Design Consulting of Marathon and Perez Engineering Development Inc. of Key West.

The other five firms were: AIR Worldwide of Massachusetts, AIR Worldwide of California, Aon Corporation of Chicago, ARA-IntraRisk of North Carolina and Willis Limited of London, England.

The goal of the study is to determine if the windstorm insurance rates and the model used to determine the rates are accurate. The Keys are covered by Citizens Property Insurance Corp., the state's insurer of last resort.

FIRM and other groups have charged that Citizens' model and rates are not accurate. FIRM has successfully battled some of the rate increases Citizens has proposed in recent years, but not all increases.

Citizens is seeking to reduce its number of policyholders, and FIRM seeks a stable and fair source for windstorm coverage in the Keys. Citizens has agreed to fund the rate and model study in the Keys, which could cost more than $400,000, according to Monroe County Commissioner and FIRM President Heather Carruthers.

Should the study identify a viable alternative to Citizens for Monroe County residents, Citizens' probable maximum loss could be reduced by $10 billion, Carruthers said.

The study will identify characteristics that show a structure can withstand hurricane-force winds, calculate damage attributable to storm surge, estimate the exposure in the Keys and evaluate alternatives for insuring Monroe County's windstorm risk, Carruthers said.

Licensed engineers will be tasked with inspecting a randomly selected number of homes built in each decade throughout the Keys, she said.

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