Citizens Property Insurance customers with traditional homeowners policies will see an average 6.4% rate increase when they renew their policies, starting Tuesday.
The Office of Insurance Regulation approved the rate increase in July, after Citizens had requested a 10.7% rate increase. The lower rate bump irked some Citizens officials, who noted the state-run company is required by state law to offer premiums at lower amounts than private sector competitors.
That was before Hurricane Ian smashed into the state last month, battering Southwest Florida. Initial estimates from Citizens were that it would see $3.2 billion in losses due to the storm, but the company doesn’t have as large an imprint on the market in the hardest-hit counties of Lee and Charlotte as it does in Southeast Florida or the Tampa area.
Rates for condominiums units rose 8.7% and took effect Oct. 1. Other types of policies were approved by OIR at rates closer to Citizens’ request, such as wind-only policies, which rose 9.8% on average statewide.
The rate hike comes with one week left before the General Election. Charlie Crist, the Democratic hopeful trying to unseat GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis, has heavily criticized the incumbent for failing to stop rate hikes from Citizens and private companies, which have been approved for much larger rate increases this year. DeSantis has said he’ll call another Special Session to pass more changes to property insurance laws, including measures that would affect Citizens. The exact dates for the Session haven’t been announced. DeSantis said it would be after the election but before the end of the year.
DeSantis has attempted to prop up the state’s beleaguered property insurance industry but hasn’t called for changes that immediately reduce rates. He called a Special Session in May to approve a set of reforms that included using $2 billion in taxpayer money to act as a reinsurance fund for companies that couldn’t obtain reinsurance coverage in the private sector.
Insurers have blamed rampant lawsuits for $1.5 billion in losses the industry has faced since 2019, before Hurricane Ian hit, which pushed global reinsurance giants to reduce coverage in Florida. The losses, coupled with the inability to get affordable reinsurance, led to the failure of six domestic insurers this year so far.