The Phoenix Flyer

Citizens Property Insurance gets OK to raise homeowner rates 6.4 percent, less than requested

By: - June 28, 2022 12:45 pm

Jody Wright sits on the steps of her apartment after the roof was torn off when Hurricane Sally passed through the area on Sept. 17, 2020, in Perdido Key, on the northern Gulf Coast. Credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Property owners insured by Citizens Property Insurance Corp., Florida’s insurer of last resort, face rate increases of up to 11 percent starting Sept. 1, according to the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR).

Citizens, a state-run corporation, insures more than 800,000 Floridians and is growing rapidly as private insurance companies retreat from the Florida marketplace.

In a notice dated June 24, OIR granted rate increases that by Citizens requested in March, but not fully. It shrank the increase for multi-peril homeowner policies from 10.7 percent, as requested, to 6.4 percent, according to OIR records.

The new rate for multi-peril coverage of mobile homes will increase by 10.6 percent rather than 10.7, as requested. Various subcategories of those types of coverage, such as wind-only, face comparable increases.

The office granted new rates to insure commercial properties through Citizens as requested. Multi-peril coverage for commercial residential properties will increase by 10.2 percent; that coverage for condo associations will rise 8.7 percent.

Among the 14 categories, the office approved rate increases of between 9.8 percent and 10.7 percent for nine. Another — wind-only coverage for commercial non-residential property in Citizens Coastal Account — hit the maximum increase of 11 percent.

The only category not granted an increase was multi-peril coverage of commercial non-residential property.

Meanwhile, private insurance companies also have requested, or by now have been granted, rate increases during the past two years, claiming higher losses due to worsening weather, widespread litigation, rising costs of construction and repairs, and rising property values.

Now pending before OIR are rate-hike requests from the Florida Farm Bureau, seeking 49 percent; KIN Interinsurance Network, seeking 25 percent; and First Floridian Auto and Home, requesting a 23 percent increase.

Meanwhile, the State Board of Administration — Gov. Ron DeSantis, Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, and Attorney General Ashley Moody — last week approved without discussion a new formula raising by 12 percent the “projected aggregate premium” charged to insurance companies for participating in the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund, or “CAT Fund,” which helps cover expensive hurricane losses.

That will apply only to the hurricane portion of the total premium, which also reflects coverage of non-hurricane events such as tornadoes and tropical storms.

SBA spokeswoman Emilie Oglesby said it is up to insurance companies whether to pass part or all of the premium increase on to their policyholders.

Paul Handerhan, president of the independent, Florida-based Federal Association for Insurance Reform, said such increases typically do get passed on to consumers, and he predicted higher rates for hurricane coverage will show up in policyholders’ September bills, as well as any other rate increases approved by OIR in the interim.

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Laura Cassels
Laura Cassels

Laura Cassels is a reporter, former statehouse bureau chief, and former city editor. She is a classical pianist, a Florida State University graduate and proud alum of the Florida Flambeau, an independent college newspaper.