Insurer Citizens delays local premium hike above $3,000 on average


The board of Citizens Property Insurance Corp. voted Wednesday to slow down another rate hike landing on a storm-battered state, moving to defer action until December on a proposed statewide premium increase of about 8 percent that would have taken effect Feb. 1.

Citizens board chairman Chris Gardner called it a “consumer-friendly action” following “the devastation brought on by Irma.”

That does not mean the rate hike is going away, just that it might take effect later. Premium increases in 2018 took effect May 1, in order to ease the impact after Hurricane Irma.

The plan would increase Palm Beach County homeowners’ rates 7.7 percent to an average of $3,052.

That sits above a proposed statewide average premium of $2,808 and would represent the fourth highest premium in the state after Monroe ($3,966), Miami-Dade ($3,945) and Broward ($3,294) counties for standard home policies.

READ ALSO: Why unintended consequences spur Citizens insurance change

Once approved by the Citizens board, the plan goes for review to Florida’s Office of Insurance Regulation.

The Citizens actuarial committee voted Tuesday to ask the full board to consider delaying the request.

“Florida is still in an ongoing emergency, really, recovering,” said committee member Bette Brown, who lives in Monroe County, which suffered heavy damage.

Hurricane Irma last year generated close to $10 billion in claims for Citizens and other insurers, but a Citizens statement highlighted “the impact of skyrocketing non-weather-related water loss claims in South Florida.” That’s a reference to roof problems, plumbing leaks and other claims that do not come directly from specific weather events. Citizens maintains such claims are often abusively inflated by contractors, public adjusters and attorneys, though representatives of those groups have accused Citizens of denying or underpaying claims.

Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis applauded the delayed increase on Wednesday.

“Passing along a costly burden to policyholders while many are still recovering from an active hurricane season is not a solution,” Patronis said in a statement. He said he would continue work on proposals to address problems with abusive water claims in the meantime.

Citizens had more than 40,000 customers in Palm Beach County at the start of April, state records show.

HOW DOES YOUR INSURER RATE? Consult the Palm Beach Post Insurance Explorer guide

Martin County would wind up with an average premium about the same as Palm Beach County after a proposed 7 percent hike, according to company projections. St. Lucie’s average premium would rise 8.9 percent to $1,917.

The overall statewide increase for a standard single-family home policy, known as an H03, would be more than 8 percent.

Combining multi-peril homeowners coverage with condo and renters’ policies, the average requested boost would be 7.9 percent across Florida, according to Citizens.

Coverage exclusively for windstorm damage would cost 8.9 percent more in Palm Beach County to reach an average of $3,112, topping an average statewide rise of 7.9 percent to $2.865.

Citizens had about 443,000 customers as of May, down from about 1.5 million in 2012 as private insurers have taken over more than 1 million policies in the interim.

News Service of Florida contributed to this report.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in

Hello epidemic: Robocalls in 561 area code blast to record levels
Hello epidemic: Robocalls in 561 area code blast to record levels

No, it’s not your imagination. An epidemic of robocalls — automated calls dominated by scams and spam — is blazing into record territory in the 561 area code. With more than a quarter of the year left, robocalls in Palm Beach County’s area code this year have already blown past totals for all of 2017, an analysis shows. That&rsquo...
Palm Beach County jobless rate dips, job growth remains tepid
Palm Beach County jobless rate dips, job growth remains tepid

Palm Beach County’s jobless rate fell to 3.9 percent in August, but job growth continued to lag the rest of the state. Palm Beach County unemployment fell from 4 percent in July and 4.4 percent in August 2017, Florida’s labor department said Friday.  However, the falling unemployment rate was accompanied by a shrinking number of workers...
New arts center for Boca Raton? Here is the plan
New arts center for Boca Raton? Here is the plan

Art is a draw. Residents and businesses in West Palm Beach know this from the success of the Kravis Center and the $100 million expansion of the Norton Museum of Art. Both cultural venues are cited as factors for the city’s population growth and corporate expansion. RELATED: $200M Uptown Boca Raton to feature shopping, movie theater, apartments...
Palm Beach County home prices stall in August

Home buyers took a breather in August, a month when the typical price of a Palm Beach County house slipped to the lowest level since January. The median price of single-family homes sold by Realtors was $340,000 last month, the Realtors of the Palm Beaches and Greater Fort Lauderdale said Thursday. That was down from July’s median price of $350...
Palm Beach County home prices pull back in August
Palm Beach County home prices pull back in August

Home buyers took a breather in August, a month when the typical price of a Palm Beach County house slipped to the lowest level since January. The median price of single-family homes sold by Realtors was $340,000 last month, the Realtors of the Palm Beaches and Greater Fort Lauderdale said Thursday. That was down from July’s median price...
More Stories