Citizens Insurance Likely to Raise Rates

At the end of 2009, Citizens Property Insurance Corp., Florida’s largest home insurer, probably will be free to raise rates for the first time in three years.

On Tuesday, a state-appointed task force charged with returning Citizens to its original role as the state’s insurer of last resort agreed that any increase in Citizens’ rates should be capped at 10 percent a year for three years to ease the financial burden on policyholders.

It’s one of several recommendations the 11-member task force will submit to the Florida Legislature this month.

Citizens’ rates, which were frozen at 2006 levels, aren’t high enough to pay claims should a major hurricane strike the state, experts say. The rate freeze expires at the end of this year, and the state-run insurer said it plans to impose higher rates as soon as possible.

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