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Tough times in the Florida insurance market have not left Citizens untouched. While not seeing the same level of rate hikes experienced by policyholders in the private market, Citizens’ customers are feeling the effects of challenging times.
Both Citizens and the Florida Legislature are taking steps to improve market conditions and stem the flow of policies to Citizens, the state’s nonprofit insurer of last resort. These necessary steps will likely impact you and other Citizens policyholders as we comply with newly enacted laws passed to stabilize the market while making internal changes to better control costs and prepare for improved market conditions.
Beginning February 1, 2022, Citizens will increase rates for new and renewing policies to reflect legislative changes, including the passage of Senate Bill 76 (SB 76). Most policyholders will see increases above or below the 7.6% average. While nobody likes to see their rates rise, these increases are far less than those being sought by many private carriers. We’re doing our best to control our own costs, which consistently rank among the lowest in the industry.
Recognizing the need for insurance reform, the Florida Legislature earlier this year passed a handful of bills, including SB 76, to improve market conditions, stem unnecessary litigation and protect consumers from fraudulent activity.
SB 76 called for a number of changes:
- To be eligible for Citizens coverage, private market insurance company quotes must be more than 20% greater than Citizens’ quote, up from 15% previously. Citizens implemented this July 1, 2021.
- Updates to contract language to reflect changes to loss-reporting timelines, requiring all initial claims be reported within two years. Citizens will include this in our policy forms beginning in November.
- Updates Citizens’ maximum allowable annual premium increase from 10% to 11%. The increased cap goes into effect beginning February 1, 2022.
Additionally, Citizens made some internal changes to better align with practices common in the private market. Among them:
- Require new policy applicants, beginning February 2022, to provide a 4-point inspection for homes over 20 years of age. Citizens currently requires 4-point inspections on homes over 30 years old.
- Increase the frequency of inspections in an effort to reduce potential losses, more accurately set rates and enhance depopulation efforts.