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Insurer seeks 10 percent premium increase on home policies in Florida

in Statewide by

Heritage Property & Casualty Insurance Co. has requested premium increases averaging nearly 10 percent on most Florida policy renewals effective on Dec. 1.

The new rates would cover the approximately 68,200 homes and condo policies Heritage acquired last year from Citizens Property Insurance Corp.

Citizens, the state-run insurer of last resort in Florida, is pursuing a policy of “depopulation” — encouraging policyholders to shift to the private insurance market. Heritage acquired some 75 percent of its Florida policies from Citizens, according to its 2015 annual report.

The increase would average 9.9 percent statewide but would not apply to policies not acquired from Citizens.

Heritage filed its proposed rates Sept. 6 with the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation.

The insurer asked for permission to impose a $10,000 coverage limit for non-roof water losses. In exchange, property owners would receive a 25 percent credit on their non-hurricane premiums.

The provision would be mandatory for homes more than 40 years old, and voluntary otherwise. The company did not expect the provision to affect premiums, it said in its rate filing.

The provision suggests concern about assignment of benefits (AOB) agreements, through which policyholders sign over their rights to contractors or lawyers in exchange for quicker repairs. Citizens and business interests complain these transactions — frequently involving burst pipes and other interior damage — lead to excessive claims and expensive litigation.

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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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