Sunday, March 3

Bill filed could bring more policy holders to Citizens Insurance

As Citizens looks to shed policies, a bill filed could bring more policy holders.

Citizens Insurance, the insurer of last resort, has spent the past year shedding more than 223,000 policies as new companies begin writing coverage in Florida. But there is a bill filed in Tallahassee that could put more policies back on their books.

Scary,” Chris Padrick said.

That’s the first word that comes to mind for Padrick when you say “homeowners insurance.”

The Martin County financial planner, has had to plan just so he can afford his recent increases.

We bought our house in 2020 and between now and then, it over doubled, he said.

Padrick is not one of the 1.2 million current customers of Citizens Insurance.

The state insurer of last resort has been moving policies to private companies.

You know from an insurance perspective, weve seen more competition, more companies come into the marketplace,” said Stuart insurance agent Kelly Johnson.

Johnson said 2024 is starting off a bit more optimistic as reinsurance rates are now single digits instead of double digits, and shes seen commercial rates improve but that doesn’t mean lower rates are coming immediately.

I think were going to see rates increase, that might be 18 to 24 months but less than weve seen over the past two years,” Johnson said.

While Citizens looks to shrink its portfolio, a bill filed in Tallahassee could put more people back with them.

The bill would allow Citizens to cover homes worth up to $1.5 million, up from the $1 million cap in only Monroe and Miami-Dade Counties.

Mark Friedlander with the Insurance Information Institute, a consumer research organization, said everywhere else in Florida, the cap is $700,000, but you could make an argument that almost any county, certainly our coastal counties, have plenty of 7-figure plus housing stock.

Cumulative replacement costs have gone up 45% over the past four years,” Friedlander said. “Thats triple the US inflation rate during the same period.”

WPTV reached out to both Citizens insurance, and the bills sponsor, Rep. Jim Mooney of Monroe County for more information, but did not hear back.

We have not heard from Citizens on this proposal but our sense is they would not be too supportive of expanding their risk exposure in the state of Florida,” Friedlander said.

In December, Citizens CEO said their company structure will allow it to always pay Citizens claims.

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