Van Loon – Update on Property Insurance

DISCLAIMER: This post is the opinion and analysis of the web blog owners and not by the Board of Van Loon Commons.  It is BECAUSE OF THE BOARD that the time, effort and cost to maintain the blog continues.


We recently became aware of the TRUTH of the 33% percent decrease in Van Loon’s property insurance, our “Surplus Lines Insurance”. Insurance intended for the Uninsurable, High Risk or Rejected by Standard Insurance carriers. After researching the subject, including the Florida Insurance Agent’s Producer manual and consulting with a family member who is a Brown & Brown insurance agent, we sent an inquiry to Brown and Brown with 6 SIMPLE QUESTIONS on how and why we were in this program.  Based upon all we had read, unless Van Loon had been rejected 3 times, we should not have been sold this type of policy.

We also were puzzled over the policy’s listing our distance to the Gulf as 1.81 miles. ?? There is a sign on Pine Island Road, just outside our neighborhood that points to the direction of the Gulf (west for the geographically challenged) which states “Pine Island – 12 Miles”.  Was it a typo?  Or did someone put the distance in as less than 2 miles to make Van Loon appear to be a higher risk property?   These were simple questions we were asking and as owners, deserve to know the truth.  Our bank, Navy Federal Credit Union issued us a mortgage with the expectation that the association is properly complying with insurance regulations, and they are entitled to the truth also.

Jim Hutton tried to speak with the manager of Brown and Brown and was told he was directed by BOD President, Pam Decraene to NOT respond to him and to only communicate with her.  The manager informed Jim that a letter “explaining the program you are in” would be sent to owners.  On Feb 2nd, we received the letter below from Jessica Paulmann of Brown and Brown. It did not answer the questions we had asked in the email below.

Brown and Brown _Fort Myers FL _Agents for Van Loon Commons

2016 – JAN _Response from Brown & Brown Agent Paulmann

I have inserted for you a page from the Florida insurance agent manual/their guidelines for placing an insured in “the program”.  This is one of several requirements.

Agents Procedures Manual – Pg 5 Diligent Efforts

We cannot say whether anyone on the current Board understands the difference between regulated insurance from carriers and this insurance, which as Ms. Paulmann correctly explains, can offer more competitive rates but is also not part of the Florida fund which would INSURE us, that the carrier could not become insolvent in the event of a major disaster.  The reference to the $2 Billion sounds wonderful; the last hurricane had somewhere near$15 Billion of damage.  It is also true that Standard Insurance (the good stuff) covers only up to that $100k limit per unit but that does not change the requirements or regulations for selling us this insurance.

When former BOD President Rick Aliperti met with Sentry Management’s, Lucia Bonadies-Stiles and Ms. Paulmann in early summer 2014 to review her insurance quotes and those from another company’s agent – we cannot say what he did or did not understand regarding insurance types or what Ms. Paulmann explained to him.  I was on the Board at the time but it was made clear by Mr. Aliperti that I was not to be included on email communications between the other BOD members and the property manager and not privy to any contract information.  Mr. Aliperti may have signed the Disclosure statement required, or maybe it was not provided.  For the current year policy, we know of at least 2 BOD members who were involved in the contract process but do not know if any signed an updated Disclosure statement, or if it is required for a subsequent year.

We do know that it is not acceptable and we deserve the answers to the 6 questions; especially where the Gulf is located under 2 miles.  We may decide to walk to that beach, if we can find it.  And of course, our property values would be significantly higher!  Since the Board has ignored our inquiry and the Queen, er President has made it clear she will not respond, we have forwarded our inquiry to the Office of Jeff Atwater, Florida’s Chief Financial Officer whose authority includes insurance regulation.   As with everything else, we have attempted to obtain information, including the Insurance Policy copies, by requesting (and we are entitled to this – read and re-read Chapter 718 if you do not understand) informally, being ignored, then a formal request.  We make NO APOLOGIES for protecting our Long- Term Investment in Van Loon and yours too.

Once we receive the responses to the questions, we will forward the information to our mortgagor and discuss what options we have if this BOD is re-elected and does not do the right thing.

The November 4, 2015 article published in the Sun Sentinel, warning of the pitfalls of this insurance explains it better than I have (maybe…..)

2015 NOV Sun Sentinel Warning