Lawmaker wants to limit Citizens Insurance to Florida-only coverage

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State Sen. David Simmons, chair of the Senate Banking and Insurance committee, says his committee will look into the possibility of prohibiting state-backed Citizens Property Insurance from issuing coverage for non-Florida residents who own property in the state.

Simmons says many out-of-state customers insured by Citizens own coastal property at rates far below those found in the private marketplace.

“We ran those numbers last spring, 180,000 individuals who are non-residents or appear to be non-residents have policies,” Simmons told his committee Tuesday. “That is a significant part of the exposure that Citizens has.” 

Rep. Bill Hager, vice-chair of the House Insurance and Banking Subcommittee, agrees with Simmons’ findings.

“During the 2013 legislative session,” the Delray Beach Republican said in a Sept. 10 press release,  “my colleagues in the Florida Legislature and I made some necessary, forward progress to reform Florida’s Citizens Property Insurance Corp.”

Hager was referring to inquiries by the Stronger Safer Florida Coalition, which include the Florida Chamber of Commerce, Associated Industries of Florida and the Florida Wildlife Federation. The coalition had questioned legislators as to why Florida property owners subsidize the nearly 180,000 people living out-of-state who hold Citizens policies.

A similar proposal entered into the 2013 legislative session, but did not make it to a final package aiming to reform and reduce the size of Citizens. According to Hager, excluding out-of-state policyholders would result in the same thing — a reduction in the number of policies written by the state-sponsored insurance company.  

As of Aug. 31, there are 1.13 million insurance policies held by Citizens, but that number could drop to 900,000 by early next year.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.