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Citizens Insurance Again Looking for Ways to Reduce Risk

In 2011, the Florida-owned insurer had 1.5M policies; it’s now 420K. Still, taxpayers reimburse any deficits, so Citizens hopes to find new ways to lower its risk.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Citizens Property Insurance Corporation will again seek input from independent evaluators to determine if it is doing all it can to serve policyholders and Floridians as the state’s insurer of last resort.

Citizens’ Board of Governors agreed on Wednesday that the insurer should once again seek an outside review to see if additional options are available that would protect Florida property owners while also reducing overall risk, since Florida taxpayers could be expected to step in if the company is faced with massive losses in any single year.

According to Citizens, the last outside study was published five years ago. From 2011 to 2015, Citizens was the subject of studies by outside groups including Florida State University, the James Madison Institute, the Insurance Information Institute and the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. The studies focused on ways to reduce Citizens exposure from its peak.

In August 2019, Senator Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, challenged Citizens to look at ways to further reduce its policy count, which at the time was 420,000. The board first discussed the issue at its September meeting. On Wednesday, board members agreed with Citizens staff to move forward.

“Senator Brandes is right. We should continue to look at ways to improve for our policyholders and stakeholders,” says Citizens Chairman Bo Rivard. “We agree the timing is right and look forward to seeing where it leads us.”

At its peak in 2011, Citizens covered 1.5 million policies – 23% of the Florida market – with exposure that topped $512 billion. In the event of a 1-in-100-year storm, Floridians were on the hook for $11.6 billion in assessments. Since then, Citizens says it has eliminated the risk of assessment in a 1-in-100-year storm and reduced its policy count through depopulation efforts, an invigorated private market and legislative reforms to reduce unnecessary litigation and assignment of benefits (AOB) abuse.

Citizens policy count has since leveled off and remained relatively stable in 2019, hovering above 420,000 until November, when Citizens added roughly 23,000 policyholders from Florida Specialty Insurance Company, which was placed in receivership by state regulators in October. As of December 6, 2019, Citizens policy count stood at 444,000.

“We still believe it is appropriate to examine what might be necessary to get Citizens exposure to an even lower level,” says Barry Gilway, Citizens president/CEO and executive director.

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