Citizens Insurance ‘takes away’ consumers in search of lower rates

The Citizen’s Property Insurance Corporation should be the insurer of last resort, but the company has become the largest state-owned company with more than 1 million policies.

However, there is a concerted effort to return landlords to the private market.

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Homeowners often go to Citizen’s as a “last resort” when they can’t get insurance anywhere else, but many people turn to them because they the cheapest.

In December, the Florida legislature passed a bill to try to change that, and many are feeling the pinch.

‘Lead Me’

When John Casaburro opened his insurance renewal, he was like many Floridians: hit with insurance shock.

“I was shocked when I opened the bill,” Casaburro said. “I left one day.”

His policy went from $1,044 annually in 2021 to $3,287 for renewal in 2023, and is more expensive if “full payment has not been made,” according to the renewal notice.

“It’s a rich man’s deal here. If you can afford the full payment, you’re paying less,” Casaburro said.

When he found out the prices had gone up, he decided to call Citizen’s for a possibly cheaper price.

“And Citizen fired me,” Casaburro said. “Send me to three reputable insurance companies, State Farm, Farm Bureau, Statewide.”

Even some of the Citizen’s current employees told News 6 they feel the pressure.

“Citizen’s is pushing me to use private information,” a viewer wrote to News 6 in an email.

“They are giving me quotes for other private insurance and making me agree or disagree each time,” he said.

News 6 asked Michael Peltier, a spokesman for the Citizen’s, why this is happening.

“It gives Citizen’s a tool to make sure we’re working as an insurer of last resort,” Peltier said.

Citizen’s has reached nearly 1.2 million policies.

Because Citizen’s is state-sponsored, which means it’s supported by taxpayers, their sweet spot is about 400,000 policies, according to Peltier.

As such, there is a concerted effort to move landlords to the private market.

More and more policyholders will experience this, according to Peltier.

Population reduction

This will happen in two ways.

In December the Florida legislature passed a bill that, in part, states that if a homeowner can get a policy within 20% of the cost of their Citizen’s policy, they must accept.

“If we find that a company is within 20% of Citizen’s price, the customer will not qualify for Citizen’s,” Peltier said.

Another process is called depopulation.

Private insurance companies can ask the Office of Insurance Regulation to look at Citizen’s books to see if there are any policies they want removed from Citizen’s file.

That’s why access was given to the viewer who emailed News 6.

“If the policyholders choose not to respond, those policies will be handed over to the private company,” Peltier said.

Casaburro says he feels you have to be a millionaire to get property insurance in Florida.

“We’re not all millionaires…” Casaburro said. “Now, yes, my neighbor said the same thing. He got taller too.”

If you are a Citizen policyholder, pay close attention to your email and account.

If you receive notice that an insurer will take your insurance, find out exactly what they offer and make sure it is the same or better than the policy. program you have with Citizen’s before you accept or reject it.

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