Changes at Citizens Insurance in the air

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - It's been a record six straight years since a hurricane hit Florida and insurance experts fear the state is due for a storm.

"We think there are things they (the state) need to do and we are hoping they do it this year,"  said Sam Miller with the Florida Insurance Council.

Private Insurance organizations teamed up for a news conference Wednesday to talk about problems the state faces because Citizens is growing by a thousand policies a day.

"We do support anything that lessens the impact and decreases the amount of policies going into Citizens," said Donovan Brown of the Property Casualty Insurers.

Several bills would lessen the state's risk by enticing more private insurers to write policies in Florida and forcing some Citizens' customers onto surplus lines.

Surplus line companies are less regulated and more expensive than Citizens.  The bill would allow customers forced into surplus companies to opt back into Citizens.
According to Don Brown of the Reinsurance Association of America, "It would be the same take out process used today for admitted carriers."

If a major storm destroys Citizens properties, private insurers would have 30 days to pay millions of dollars in Citizens assessments.  There is a bill to reduce the amount of the assessments and give insurers more time to come up with the cash.

"So it's not the shock to the bank account of the company, the immediate shock. They would get to collect it then remit it," Brown said.
Industry Experts says the plan isn't perfect, but it's a start.

The industry doesn't expect a bill with massive changes to the insurance market this session because lawmakers will be busy with redistricting and the budget. 

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