TALLAHASSEE - As homeowners continue piling into the state-backed Citizens Property Insurance Corp., regulators this week approved proposals that could lead to private insurers pulling as many as 184,000 policies from Citizens starting in October.
"I'm very concerned," said Nancy Morales, a South Florida homeowner who could lose her Citizens insurance. She raised a valid concern about the new private insurers, "They may charge me more for the same coverage I'm getting with Citizens or I get less coverage and that is not a good thing because we are in the middle of hurricane season," said Morales.
Insurance Commissioner Michael Yaworsky signed orders Monday approving the proposals by Slide Insurance Co., Safepoint Insurance Co., Southern Oak Insurance Co., Florida Peninsula Insurance Co. and Monarch National Insurance Co.
Slide received approval to assume as many as 100,000 Citizens policies, by far the largest amount, according to the orders posted on the state Office of Insurance Regulation website. Safepoint could take as many as 30,000 policies; Southern Oak, 25,000 policies; Florida Peninsula, 19,000 policies; and Monarch, 10,000 policies. Each could start pulling policies from Citizens on Oct. 17.
Florida leaders have long sought to shift policies from Citizens into the private market, in part because of financial risks if the state gets hit by a major hurricane or multiple hurricanes."
"They approved up to 184,000 of those shifts to take place in October," said Michael Peltier, the communications agent for Citizens, he says through the Office of Insurance Regulation, a state-run agency is how the process started.
"(Private) companies have gone to the office of insurance regulation to request to take policies out of Citizens policies," said Peltier.
Citizens' policy count has skyrocketed over the past three years, as private insurers have dropped customers and raised rates because of financial troubles. As of Friday, Citizens totaled 1,345,403 policies, compared to 486,773 at the end of July 2020.
Also, not all targeted policyholders will shift out of Citizens to private carriers. But a change that lawmakers approved in December increases the likelihood customers will leave Citizens - though they might have to pay more for coverage.
In many cases, homeowners can buy less-expensive coverage from Citizens than from private insurers. The change approved in December requires Citizens customers to accept offers of coverage from private insurers if the offers are within 20 percent of the cost of Citizens premiums.
"If the premium is 20% of what the Citizens policy is, the policyholder can stay with Citizens; if however, based on laws that changed in 2022, an offer comes in and if the premium is within the 20% of what the Citizen premium and would-be customers don't have to necessarily take that offer but they would be ineligible to stay with Citizens," said Peltier.
Citizens Property Insurance is saying that before the end of the month, some of their policyholders will get a letter in the mail notifying them their policy was picked up by another insurance company. They must be on the lookout to discuss any doubts with that provider.
Morales hopes she is among the ones who will stay with her policy, but for now, she has to wait.
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