When the board of Citizens Property Insurance approved a $27.5 million, five-year contract for call center services in December 2020, it was based on projections of the company’s policy count made in 2019.
Since then, thanks to a beleaguered private market that has shed policies and sent homeowners into state-run Citizens, its policy count has spiked far beyond those projections, leading staffers to request an additional $50.2 million to meet the demands of the contract.
The Citizens Consumer Services Committee unanimously approved moving forward with the recommendation on Wednesday. The full board will review the plan and vote on final approval at its next meeting next month.
Jeremy Pope, Citizens’ vice president for customer experience, said the company’s policy count simply outstripped its projections at the start of the contract.
Citizens’ policy count at the start of 2021 was 542,739. It now stands at more than 1.1 million. The estimates in the call center contract were based on a forecast 12% growth in policies in 2021 and 5% growth in 2022. The actual numbers were 29% in 2021 and 39% so far in 2022.
And since the contract is based on call volume, the money allotted for the contract will be depleted by March 31, 2023 — three years before the end of the contract’s term.
Moreover, the $50.2 million request is only now projected to last until 2025, one year before the contract ends. Pope said he can’t guarantee staff won’t request more funds to complete the terms of the contract, but noted it will be largely based on the number of policies Citizens has, which will be determined by market forces.
“We just simply don’t have a strong confidence level in projecting policy count that far out due to so many unknown market variables at this time,” Pope told the committee. “We are extremely hopeful, though, that market conditions will improve by the expiration date of the call center services contract.”
The original contract was for eight companies, and the board approved 10 more companies to its call center roster in March.
The panel also moved forward with a $727,000, three-year contract with Florida Public Media for advertising.