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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My Safe Florida Home Program

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – May 14, 2008 – The My Safe Florida Home (MSFH) program will achieve its goal of 35,000 grants to homeowners by the end of this month, and the first-come, first- served program will stop accepting grant applications.

The MSFH program will transition to an inspection-focused program beginning June 2008, offering free wind inspections for eligible homeowners until it reaches the Legislature’s goal of performing 400,000 inspections or until the program sunsets in June 2009.

“With hurricane season less than one month away, I encourage Floridians to sign up for a free wind inspection to learn how to harden their homes against hurricane damage,” says Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, who oversees the Department of Financial Services. “The response from homeowners has been overwhelming, and I thank the Legislature for creating this program and allowing us to enable more than 35,000 Floridians to make their homes more storm-resistant.”

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Florida Home Insurance

Despite promises of a new Governor, urgings, and passed bills, Florida home owners have yet to see any relief on their insurance premiums. Personally, my premium went up 33%, but from what I heard from readers and other locals, this is nothing. I talked with some whose premiums went up 100% and more. So far, the average final rate filing is at an increase of over 30% although the insurance commissioner’s office has rejected these increases. The insurance companies seem to be having trouble making everything pencil with the estimated $40 billion paid out by insurance companies during the active hurricane seasons of 2004 and 2005, claiming that they still have to have enough cash on hand should we have another active hurricane season, despite how painful it may be to the wallets of the policy holders.