News & Media
florida state capitol building in tallahassee
Aneese / Getty Images

Citizens Shops Plan to Reduce Policies

The Fla.-owned insurer wants fewer policies, and it’s proposed a law that would force homeowners to accept private coverage even if it costs up to 20% more.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Under a proposal being shopped to lawmakers by Citizens Property Insurance – the Florida-backed “insurer of last resort” – homeowners covered by Citizens Property Insurance Corp. would have to take policies with rates up to 20% higher if they get offers from private insurers.

Christine Ashburn, Citizens’ chief of communications, legislative and external affairs, said Thursday that the request for the 2022 legislative session is part of ongoing efforts to slow growth at Citizens, which has been adding about 5,000 policies a week.

“I jokingly call (Citizens) Hotel California, because once you’re at Citizens, you never really have to leave,” Ashburn said Thursday during the Florida Chamber of Commerce Insurance Summit in Tampa. “With depopulation (an effort to move policies out of Citizens to the private market), specifically, no matter the price, even if the depopulation offer is cheaper than our premium, you can choose to reject any offer.”

Ashburn said just 18% to 20% of customers offered private coverage accept the changes. Ashburn said she’s optimistic about the proposed change but acknowledged that the request could be difficult to pass in an election year and after lawmakers approved legislation this spring (SB 76) that included steps to try to curb lawsuits against property insurers.

Citizens had 725,942 policies as of Oct. 31, and it’s seen heavy growth amid financial problems in the private insurance market.

Ashburn said the state-backed insurer is “financially sound,” but that could quickly change with a couple of strong hurricanes. “Growing is not where we want to be,” Ashburn said. “We couldn’t market this well if we tried.”

Source: The News Service of Florida