Friday, May 25, 2018
Business

Citizens schedules Tampa hearing on proposed rate hikes

Homeowners covered by state-run Citizens Property Insurance will get to air their concerns over another proposed rate increase at a public hearing in downtown Tampa next week.

The hearing will run from 4 to 8 p.m. Tuesday inside Ballroom D of the Tampa Convention Center, 333 S Franklin St.

The board for Citizens, which insures those who cannot find coverage in the open market, voted in June to raise rates by a statewide average of 7 percent. The insurer's pending rate request with the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation includes a wide range of increases — from 2.2 percent for mobile homeowners' personal lines to 11.5 percent for coastal policyholders in the condo-only commercial lines account.

The state has capped average rate increases for Citizens at 10 percent to ease the burden on homeowners.

The overall statewide hike does not reflect increases the board separately approved for sinkhole coverage, which is not subject to the 10 percent cap.

The Citizens' staff had recommended a 27.3 percent hike for sinkhole policyholders, but the board approved a slightly lower increase, phasing in higher rates in the three hardest-hit counties of Pasco, Hernando and Hillsborough.

The Citizens board has cut back on what its policies will cover and raised rates the past couple of years. Board members have maintained they need to bring rates up to a level that reflects Florida's hurricane risk while also meeting a mandate to push people into the private marketplace. Despite recurring efforts to shrink, Citizens remains Florida's largest property insurer with more than 1.2 million policyholders statewide.

Florida Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty scheduled the Tampa hearing after then-state Rep. (and new Pasco County tax collector) Mike Fasano wrote a letter in June saying a local meeting was warranted. Fasano cited the "immense" burden being placed in particular on bay area property owners with sinkhole coverage.

Policyholders and others who cannot make the hearing may email their comments or concerns to McCarty's office at [email protected] Include "Citizens" in the subject line of the email.

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