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What happens when the last resort home insurance option is no longer an option?

Kimberly Smith is out of options. She was recently dropped from her Citizens Property Insurance policy and couldn't afford to find another plan.

LAKELAND, Fla. — Florida is in the thick of hurricane season now, and there are fewer and fewer options to get your home insured. So what happens if you run out of options? 

10 Tampa Bay spoke with a woman who did: Kimberly Smith. 

When Smith's home insurance policy was up for renewal, she said her rate was well out of budget. 

"My insurance rates had almost tripled to $3,000," Smith said. 

Then her search began for a more affordable option. That's when she landed on a policy with Citizens Property Insurance. Within a few months, she got a notice of cancellation for her new policy. 

 "I have no insurance going into the heat of hurricane season," Smith said.

The policy cancellation went into effect on Aug. 19, 2022. 

To stay insured, Smith was told she would have to get her roof repaired and replace support beams in her home. 

 "Fixing all of this would be in the thousands because I would have to hire someone," Smith said. 

So what happens when a last resort insurance option terminates your policy?

 "You know that's a question that's hard to answer," Michael Peltier, a spokesman for Citizens Property Insurance said. "Citizens is the state's insurer of last resort. We try to make every accommodation that we can to insure as many people as we can. But at the end of the day, there are underwriting guidelines that insurers have to follow to cover a policy."

Reporter Malique Rankin asked specifically about Smith's policy. Citizens is not allowed to disclose policy specifics but shared they would look into her case and work with her. In a matter of hours, a positive resolution was reached. 

"We worked with the agent and Ms. Smith’s policy has been renewed," Peltier said. " Any defects noted in the inspection must be repaired or policy will not be renewed when it comes up for renewal next year."

Citizens is a last resort option. And it's one many Floridians have turned to in recent months. But in order to keep your policy, you still have to comply and pass inspections. 

"If repairs need to be made, if the property is not insurable anymore, due to age of roof or deficiencies, our hands are tied at that point," Peltier said.

Smith shared that her home is paid off. She lives paycheck to paycheck, receiving disability, making it difficult for her to cover the costs of pricey expenses. 

 "All of the other companies said – no. 1 since the roof was older they would not take me, and no. 2 since I was now under a cancellation notice, they wouldn't touch me," Smith said. "So I couldn't get any other insurance."

Now, she'll be able to get through hurricane season with her home still insured. 

RELATED: Citizens Property Insurance has over one million policies for Florida homeowners; expert explains why that's not good

RELATED: Florida agency downgrades 4 property insurance companies' ratings

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