After considering testimony and documents from Fair Insurance Rates in Monroe (FIRM) and comments received from residents of Monroe County, Florida Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier has ordered homeowners windstorm rates for Monroe County to remain at current levels. Over the last several years rate increases have been around 10% every year and have resulted in annual increases of $300 per policyholder.
FIRM has testified at Citizens Insurance rate hearings that Citizens windstorm insurance rates are unjustifiably high for Monroe County, resulting in Monroe County premiums that were more than $750 million higher than claims since 2004. The Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR) and Insurance Commissioner Altmaier considered the issues that FIRM raised and directed Citizens to complete a series of analyses based on FIRM’s claims. FIRM has argued that the hurricane models do not accurately represent wind vs. water (surge) losses, that Monroe County’s stringent building code requirements are not reflected in the model results, and that dividing the County into smaller rating territories may be appropriate considering the geography of Monroe County.
“This is a big win for the residents of Monroe County, especially as so many are rebuilding after Hurricane Irma,” said FIRM President Mel Montagne. “We are so grateful for the support we receive from our State and local elected officials and the local governments and associations who continue to financially support our efforts, and especially to our members, who donate, volunteer, send comments and continue to fight alongside us. There is more work to be done as condo and mobile home rates will continue to rise, but this result is truly good news for us.”
FIRM is awaiting the results of its lawsuit against the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR) concerning 2017 rate increases. FIRM believes that OIR wrongly denied Monroe County policy holders their right to present their case against unjustifiably high and unaffordable wind insurance rates before an Administrative Law Court. If FIRM is permitted to move its case forward, FIRM will show that the rate setting methodology utilized by Citizens and approved by OIR is flawed as it relates to Monroe County. FIRM’s attorneys presented oral arguments before the First Appellate Court in October.