Many changes are in store for Citizens' policyholders in 2024. In this issue of the Citizens Policyholder Newsletter, we take a look ahead at what to expect for the coming year.
Earlier this year, the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR) approved Citizens’ request for a rate increase. After making modifications, Citizens will be increasing rates by an average of 12.3% for policyholders insuring their primary residence.
A primary residence is a dwelling that is the policyholder’s primary home and is occupied by the policyholder for more than nine months of the year or is a leased rental property that is the primary home of the tenant and that the tenant occupies for more than nine months of each year.
Florida law now provides for higher rate caps for Citizens policies that insure non-primary residences. The rates on such policies may be up to 50% more than Citizens’ established rate for the prior year in order to reach actuarially sound levels more quickly – where premiums collected equal expected claims and expenses.
Nobody likes to see their rates go up, but it’s important to note that current Citizens rates, on average, are 55% below actuarially sound levels and are, in many areas, 30-40% below market rates.
Coming: Flood Coverage Requirements
Too many policyholders found themselves unable to fully recover from Hurricane Ian because they did not have flood insurance. Citizens does not offer flood insurance and is not authorized to offer such insurance. Flood insurance may be available through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and from private insurers authorized to offer such insurance.
Recognizing Florida’s unique flood risk, Florida law now requires that over the next few years, most Citizens Personal Lines residential policyholders with policies that provide wind coverage to carry flood insurance either through the NFIP or from a private insurer.
As provided for by Florida law, Citizens has begun phasing in this requirement. For residents in designated flood zones, new policies issued beginning April 1, 2023, are required to have flood insurance, and policies renewing on or after July 1, 2023, are required to have flood insurance.
Beginning in 2024, additional Personal Lines residential policyholders with wind coverage will be required to obtain flood insurance. Over time, most Personal Lines residential policyholders with wind coverage will be required to carry flood insurance to be eligible for coverage with Citizens. (See related article.)
Depopulation: Read Your Mail!
Florida’s private property insurance market is improving – and there is an increasing interest from private insurance companies to expand their coverage in Florida. This indicates a healthier market, which reduces the risk of Citizens assessments and surcharges. One way private insurers expand is through Citizens’ Depopulation Program. Established by the Legislature, the program allows private insurance companies authorized by the OIR to assume Citizens' policies.
Following legislative reforms passed in December 2022, Citizens’ personal and commercial residential policyholders who receive an offer from a private insurance company that is not more than 20% greater than the estimated Citizens renewal premium will be ineligible to remain with Citizens.
Personal and commercial residential policyholders receiving offers that are more than 20% greater than Citizens' renewal premium are eligible to remain with Citizens. To do so, they must take action to alert Citizens of the decision. This process will be outlined in the policyholder notice and can be done online or through your insurance agent. If the policyholder does not respond, the policy will be transferred to the private insurance company making the least expensive offer.
Citizens policyholders receiving offers are urged to contact their insurance agent listed in the offer letter. They are in the best position to assist. More information is also available on the Depopulation page.