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Citizens Insurance faces $1.2 billion in Irma claims; total insurance hit is $3.7 billion

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Citizens Property Insurance Corp. faces $1.2 billion in losses following Hurricane Irma, Board of Governors chair Christopher Gardner reported Wednesday.

“Please recognize that this is an early estimate, and this number will probably change,” Gardner told board members during a telephone conference call.

The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation, meanwhile, reported 577,918 claims against all insurers as of Tuesday evening, involving residential, commercial, flood, and additional lines. Some 12.6 percent of those claims had been closed.

The estimated value of all claims was near $3.7 billion.

Citizens had fielded 45,651 claims as of Tuesday evening, Gardner said. Fifty-six percent came from the “Tri-County” region — Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach Counties.

The number of claims could rise to 70,000 during the next 18 to 24 months, he said.

The Florida Keys, where Citizens controls 60 percent of the wind-damage insurance market, represented 15 percent of the claims filed thus far.

Citizens has moved 100 adjusters into Key West. Additional adjusters have been stationed in Key Largo, Florida City, Naples, North Miami Beach, Marathon, and Big Pine Key.

The company has issued $836,000 in cash advances to more than 1,200 policyholders to date.

“We believe our resources are adequate, and all vendors responded effectively, providing in excess of 800 adjusters” statewide, Gardner said.

The Florida CAT fund will cover $193 million of the company’s losses. Gardner estimated Citizens’ reserves after losses $6.4 billion, plus reinsurance coverage.

“Even after Hurricane Irma, Citizens’ capital position is strong,” he said.

However, “given the magnitude of reported losses, we are sure to encounter unforeseen challenges,” Gardner said.

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Michael Moline is a former assistant managing editor of The National Law Journal and managing editor of the San Francisco Daily Journal. Previously, he reported on politics and the courts in Tallahassee for United Press International. He is a graduate of Florida State University, where he served as editor of the Florida Flambeau. His family’s roots in Jackson County date back many generations.

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