How Has Citizen’s Changed?

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Florida Senate Bill 2-A is in effect.

What does that mean for Citizens policyholders?

 

On December 16, 2022, Florida Senate Bill 2-A was passed, sparking sweeping changes for the insurance industry.

While most of these changes will affect all homeowners, insurance carriers, and even some attorneys in the state, other changes are specific to Citizens Property Insurance Corporation.

We routinely urge homeowners to avoid purchasing policies from Citizens if possible, but we also understand that it’s called “Florida’s insurer of last resort” for a reason—some people either cannot find or afford coverage elsewhere.

Don’t forget that Citizens will tell you this too. They weren’t designed to be competitive or provide excellent coverage. They were created so that distressed properties would have access to insurance at all.

If you currently have commercial or residential insurance through Citizens, here is how the new legislative reform might affect you.

 

About Citizens Property Insurance Corporation

Citizens Insurance (formally known as Citizens Property Insurance Corporation) is a state-run, non-profit insurance carrier for Florida residents who are unable to find coverage from private insurance companies.

As a non-profit, Citizens typically offers insurance policies at a much lower rate than its competitors, but this low price comes at a very high cost—namely, cut-rate coverage.

Even former CEO Barry Gilway has stated that it’s “unfortunate” that Citizens is the first (or sometimes only) choice for Florida homeowners. In fact, policies at the state-run insurer have nearly tripled since 2019. Citizens now backs 1.1 million policies and they are expected to hit 1.2 million this year.

Fortunately, Senate Bill 2-A hopes to turn the tide. Let’s see what changes you can expect if you’re a Citizens policyholder.

Change #1: Who Is Eligible For Citizens Insurance

Previously, homeowners could only qualify for Citizen’s coverage if they couldn’t find a private insurer to issue them a policy or comparable offers were more than 20% more expensive than at Citizens. This rule still applies, but beginning on April 1, 2023, it will apply to renewals as well as new business.

This means that you will need to revisit your insurance situation every year to make sure you still qualify for Citizens coverage which—ultimately—is a good thing.

Every insurance carrier calculates premiums differently and any change in their algorithms (or your lifestyle) could open doors to a multitude of better coverage options…but you won’t know unless you research those options with an independent insurance agent.

 

Change #2: Citizens’ Premiums

The new bill also demands that Citizens’ rates be “non-competitive” with private insurance companies, although it’s still unclear what this will look like.

Currently, Citizens is limited to raising premiums no more than 12% in 2023 and 15% in 2026, a restriction known as a “glide path.”

The final determination is up to the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation but Citizens has stated that the glide path will remain “intact.”

Change #3: Flood Insurance

While there is a good chance that your homeowners policy covers water damage, there is a very low chance that it covers flood damage (and yes, there is a difference). For that, you would need a separate flood insurance policy—something only 19% of Floridians have.

Up until now, flood insurance was optional (albeit a very good idea). Under the new bill, however, Citizens’ policyholders must carry flood coverage.

If the property is located in a higher risk flood zone, homeowners must obtain flood insurance for new policies starting on April 1, 2023 and at renewal starting on July 1, 2023.

Properties that are not located in a higher risk flood zone will have to obtain flood coverage at different times based on chosen policy limits.

March 1, 2024 for policy limits of $600,000 or more.
March 1, 2025 for policy limits of $500,000 or more.
March 1, 2026 for policy limits of $400,000 or more.
March 1, 2027 for all other policies.

 

Conclusion

As independent insurance agents who have worked in Orlando for decades, we are excited to see these reforms put into place. We hope that Florida property owners will see a drastic improvement in the insurance industry and we are excited to watch it happen in real time!

If you have questions about premium increases, policy changes, or any other details regarding your insurance coverage, give us a call! Because we are not held captive to a particular insurance carrier, we can shop the market to find a variety of options at different price points to help you find a policy you’re satisfied with.

Give us a call today or fill out our online quote form to get started!

 

DISCLAIMER

Florida insurance rules and regulations can and do change periodically. The information above is subject to change and may become inaccurate or outdated at any time.

The post How Has Citizen’s Changed? appeared first on Harry Levine Insurance.

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