Citizens Property Insurance Corporation’s Board of Governors on Tuesday approved a pair of rate recommendations that make Citizens rates more competitive with private insurance company policies to slow the flow of policyholders returning to the Florida’s “insurer of last resort.”

On a 7-2 vote board members approved rates recommendations for 2021 that call for a statewide average increase of 7.2% for personal lines – homeowners, condo owners, mobile homes owners, dwelling and retners. If approved by the Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR) the rates would go into effect for policies renewed after August 1, 2021.

In Monroe County the recommended rate increase is 8.3% for multi-peril homeowner policies, 9.7% for multi-peril condo owner policies, 8.2% for wind-only homeowner policies, and 9.4% for wind-only condo owner policies. You can view the state-wide recommendations here.

The board then voted 7-2 to recommend that new policyholders pay actuarially sound rates instead of benefiting from the same capped premiums that existing Citizens policyholders receive. If approved by the OIR, the recommendation would increase rates for new business by an average of 21%.

Several Monroe County leaders addressed the board including FIRM President Mel Montagne; Daniel Samess, CEO of the Greater Marathon Chamber of Commerce; Brian Shea, City of Marathon Planning Director spoke on behalf of City Manager George Garrett; Kurt Lewin, Sr. VP at First State Bank of the Florida Keys; Heather Carruthers, former Monroe County Commissioner and FIRM President; and Suzanne Moore, President of the Key West Chamber of Commerce.

All expressed concern that the removal of the 10% rate cap would damage the Keys economy, making housing less affordable and putting even more of a strain on the working class that keeps our economy moving. Montagne and Carruthers reiterated that Monroe has been a so-called donor county–paying more in premiums that it’s received in claims–despite the fact that the county has the strictest building codes in the state.

Bette Brown, Area Executive for Center State Bank of Florida, who also sits on the Citizens Board of Governors, also spoke in support of Monroe County residents. She explained that for many policyholders in Monroe, Citizens is the only choice.

Following comments in a 6-3 vote, the board urged OIR to maintain caps for new business in Monroe County at 10% over the rate charged to renewing policyholders.

It is unclear what authority the OIR has over the statutorily mandadted rate cap. Proposed legislation is expected to be introduced that would also seek to remove the rate cap.

FIRM will be following this issue closely and will our members and the community informed. The full Board of Governors meeting is archived on the Florida Channel here.

 

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