If you’ve been paying attention to the news cycle the past few days, you’ve probably heard a familiar story – Citizens Property Insurance Corporation, your state-run insurer of last resort, is trying to raise rates on Florida policyholders. Given Citizens’ record the past few years, this revelation is by itself hardly newsworthy.
This time was different.
Citizens’ plan, only first reported by news outlets 72 hours ago, called for an aggressive push to reduce its number of policies by more than 400,000 (or about 30%) over the course of the next 18 months.
While reducing the size of Citizens Property Insurance is surely a noble goal worth pursuing, this most recent plan was alarming for several reasons.
First, the plan pushed by the Board would remove the 10 percent cap on rate increases for any new customers. While existing Citizens policies would have remained capped, new customers would have been subject to rates as much as 50% higher than existing customers with similar policies.
It’s not hard to imagine the havoc this plan would wreak on Florida’s fragile housing market. Any hope of a recovery would be out the window.
Aside from the chilling economic repercussions, the most unsettling aspect of the proposal was that these changes, which would affect hundreds of thousands of policyholders, were being pursued outside of the traditional process.
Instead of being debated and decided by your duly elected representatives inside the state capitol, these changes would have been handed down by an eight member board of political appointees inside a Tampa Marriott Hotel.
By attempting this backdoor rate increase, Citizens Property Insurance Corporation tried to completely circumvent the legislative process and, in turn, electoral accountability.
Instead of taking a smart, strategic approach to depopulating our state-run insurer, Citizens continues to treat policyholders like a math problem. These policyholders are real people with nowhere else to turn. Thankfully, today at least, they received some good news.
Because public outcry mounted so quickly and loudly, Citizens’ Board of Governors wisely decided to give the matter more than a few days time to decide.
We need to keep the pressure up to ensure that decisions as important as these are decided in the legislature, not a conference room in a Tampa Marriott.
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