1. Business

Citizens Property Insurance downsizes rate hike following legislation

Citizens Property Insurance Co. is lowering rates following recently passed legislation that addressed growing litigation stemming from water damage claims that weren’t caused by storms. Pictured is Barry Gilway, president of Citizens, in 2012. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
Published Jun. 20

Citizens Property Insurance Co. is downgrading a rate increase it was granted last year following recently passed legislation that addressed growing litigation stemming from water damage claims not caused by storms.

Instead of an average rate hike of 8.2 percent for homeowners policies across the state, which the state-backed insurer's board approved in December, rates would increase 2.3 percent on average for homeowners. The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation needs to sign off on the change.

"Today's recommendation is a direct result of meaningful legislative reforms passed earlier this year to combat rising premiums that have placed an increasingly heavy burden on our policyholders," Gary Aubuchon, interim chairman of Citizens' board of governors, said in a news release.

Tampa Bay-area counties, however, would see rate increases that are considerably more than state average. And some would actually see a greater rate increase than was approved in December because Citizens has had two additional quarters of claims on which to build a forecast for its exposure, a spokeswoman said.

Under the change, multiperil homeowners insurance would increase by an average of 8 percent (previously 8.5 percent) in Hillsborough County, 7 percent (previously 6.8 percent) in Hernando County, 7.5 percent (previously 7.1 percent) in Pasco County, and 5.2 percent (previously 6.8 percent) in Pinellas County.

The changes would go into effect in December for renewed and new policies.

Wednesday's overall decrease comes courtesy of a state bill signed into law last month that increases consumer safeguards for homeowners who hire contractors to make repairs to their home, among which is a structure to determine attorney fees.

For several years, the insurance industry has cried foul about abuse of a practice known as "assignment of benefits," in which a homeowner gives a third party, such as a contractor, the legal right to deal directly with the homeowner's insurance company for a claim. Abuse arose when an increased number contractors took insurers to court over the fair price of a repair. If the contractor, who was acting on behalf of the consumer in court, won the case, the insurer would have to pay the contractor's legal fees.

The issue was especially prevalent in south Florida, resulting in increased homeowner insurance rates because of the significant amount insurers collectively had to pay for claims that were inflated by the legal fees.

Citizens cited it as one of the reasons for past rate hikes, including the 8.2 percent hike.

Contact Malena Carollo at or (727) 892-2249. Follow @malenacarollo.


  1. Port Tampa Bay president and CEO Paul Anderson. [OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times (2017)]
    Port commissioners approved the raise after a year with milestone achievements on several fronts.
  2. A rendering of the proposed Edge Collective in St. Petersburg's Edge District. Storyn Studio for Architecture
    The "Hall on Central'' will be managed by Tampa’s Hall on Franklin team.
  3. Mango Plaza in Seffner has sold for $12.49 million. The plaza is anchored by a Publix and Walmart, making it attractive to a Baltimore investment firm. (Continental Realty Corporation)
    Mango Plaza’s new owners are based out of Baltimore.
  4. The Southernmost Point marker in Key West. CAROL TEDESCO  |  AP
    The travel website put the Florida Keys on its list of places not to visit.
  5. Philanthropist David Straz Jr. and his wife Catherine celebrate in March after he advanced into the Tampa mayoral run-off election. Mr. Straz has died at the age of 77. TAILYR IRVINE  |  Times
    The former mayoral candidate who lost to Tampa Mayor Jane Castor earlier this year, died Monday while on a fishing trip in Homosassa. His name, and legacy, are integral to Tampa.
  6. The Chick-fil-A on Dale Mabry in South Tampa. The company announced Monday it will no longer donate to The Salvation Army and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
    The groups have faced criticism for their opposition to same-sex marriage.
  7. Candice Anderson, left, and Alsace Walentine, co-owners of Tombolo Books, rearrange books as attendees of the Times Festival of Reading leave the University Student Center behind them. [Jack Evans | Times]
    The shop plans to open next to Black Crow on First Ave. S before the new year.
  8. An opened capsule containing Kratom. The Clearwater City Council was confronted by dozens of concerned citizens at a recent meeting who urged them not to ban the herbal supplement. Times
    “Our recommendation right now is, we don’t think there’s a need to regulate it.”
  9. BayCare Health Systems now plans to build a $200 million, 60-bed hospital along Bruce B. Downs Boulevard. The company previously planned to build on 111 acres further north adjacent to Interstate 75 and an interchange to built at Overpass Road. Shown his the main entrance to BayCare's St. Joseph's Hospital North on Van Dyke Road in Lutz. Times
    BayCare plans a $200 million, 60-bed hospital on land it owns along Bruce B. Downs Boulevard
  10. Damian J. Fernandez, center, is introduced Monday as the new president of Eckerd College. He will succeed longtime president Donald R. Eastman III on July 1. SCOTT KEELER  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Damian Fernandez, 62, will succeed president Donald R. Eastman III, who steps down June 30 after leading the school for 19 years.