Fire hydrant distance puts Citrus homeowner’s insurance at risk

A Citrus County homeowner is facing the possibility of losing his property insurance coverage due to the location of a fire hydrant that is beyond his control. The insurance company has given him a deadline to resolve the issue, but he says he has no power over the county’s infrastructure.

Homeowner gets letter from insurance company

William Calise lives in a family home off a long, winding road in Citrus County. Last August, he spent thousands of dollars on a new roof to ensure he could keep his coverage with Southern Oak, his insurance company. But he was shocked when he received a letter from them last month, stating that there was no fire hydrant present within 1,000 feet of his property. The letter said that this may increase the potential for future losses and that his coverage would not be renewed if he did not fix the issue by Oct. 29, 2023.

Fire hydrant distance puts Citrus homeowner’s insurance at risk
Fire hydrant distance puts Citrus homeowner’s insurance at risk

Calise says he has no control over the location of the fire hydrant, which was installed and maintained by the county, not him. He says he feels frustrated and helpless by the situation.

“We’re forced to have to contact these companies and give them our money, and put up with their nonsense,” Calise said. “How is a fire hydrant, installed by the local government, my problem?”

County fire rescue says hydrant location is not an issue

Calise contacted the Citrus County Fire Rescue to see if they could help him with the fire hydrant issue. He received a letter from the Chief, who wrote that the engines and tankers of the fire department carry water and that they could pump from alternate water sources if needed. The Chief also wrote that the fire department has an ISO rating of 3, which means that it meets the standards of the Insurance Services Office for fire protection.

“I don’t think it’s just this insurance company, I think it’s all insurance companies,” Calise said. “I don’t think they want to do business here.”

Calise says he has not been able to find another insurance company that would cover his property without charging him exorbitant rates.

Insurance commissioner’s office looking into the matter

Calise reached out to 8 On Your Side, a news channel that investigates consumer issues, for help. They contacted the Office of Michael Yaworsky, Florida’s Insurance Commissioner, who is in charge of regulating the insurance industry. They asked if a homeowner could be dropped for being too far from a hydrant.

Yaworsky’s office said they were looking into that specific question. They also said that insurance companies are required to give 120 days’ notice before they drop a homeowner.

8 On Your Side also contacted Southern Oak to ask if anything could be done for Calise. They have not received a response yet.

Calise says he hopes that his case will be resolved soon and that he will not lose his coverage.

“I called you specifically because, obviously, this needs addressing,” Calise said.

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