Citizens Approves 45 Percent Coastal Rate Increase, 21 Percent Inland

December 15, 2005

The Citizens Property Insurance Corp. board of governors has decided to approve higher premium increases that average 45 percent on Florida’s coast and 21 percent inland.

The state’s insurer of last resort had already asked for a 17 percent rate increase in November, which results in an average increase of 80 percent for coastal homes and 51 percent for mobile home owners.

If approved by Florida’s regulatory bodies, almost 840,000 policyholders could receive higher bills in March.

The Fort Myers News-Press analized Citizen’s documents and estimated more than 243,000 homeowners live in areas set for average increases that exceed $1,000.

The analysis showed the following average premium increases: 12,000 Lee County residents, from $401 to $1,826 a year, raising the average annual insurance bill for more than 8,000 residents to over $6,700; Escambia County, 1,100 coastal residents will be charged an average $1,638 a year more for home insurance, pushing their average bill to $3,897, and Brevard County coastal insurance bills will go up an average $795, to $2,030.

Single-family homeowners could see their wind-only insurance premiums increase by as much as 66 percent in parts of Broward County and 51 percent in parts of Palm Beach County, should the board decide to ask the Office of Insurance Regulation to approve higher rates.

Facing the biggest hikes are some residents in Escambia County, which face a 127.8 percent increase, and some residents in Charlotte, Lee and Santa Rosa counties, which face increases above 70 percent.

The smallest hikes will be in Pasco County at 1.8 percent; Indian River County at 10.5 and Hernando County at 19.5 percent.

Citizens officials said the steep increase will reduce deficits, such as the one in 2004 that triggered a $516 million assessment against Florida property owners, whether insured by Citizens or not. A nearly $1 billion assessment is projected to cover 2005 losses.

“This is the reason we’ve been running deficits, because we didn’t have the reserves built up to cover eight storms,” Citizens board chairman Bruce Douglas told the News-Press.

He said the increases are meant to more accurately reflect the risk Citizens is insuring against.

“As distasteful as it is to have to consider actuarially sound rates, from an insurance standpoint if you’re going to break even, you better have them,” Douglas said.

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