Citizens insurance makes more changes

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Citizens began 2012 with just under a million and a half policies. That is about twice the number of policies that should be expected for an insurer of last resort.

To make private insurance more attractive, deductibles are going up and insurance limits are going down. No longer will Citizens insure a home for more than a million dollars.

"The challenge of shrinking Citizens requires a dedicated and continuing effort to identify ways to reduce our exposure and policy count," said retiring citizens chairman Scott Wallace.

Legislation is being considered to lower the assessments that could be passed on to every Floridian if a major storm were to hit the state. Those assessments could cost average homeowners an extra 12 hundred dollars a year. But lowering them means paying more now.

The Citizens changes are almost certainly going to end with higher bills in mailboxes and Governor Rick Scott, who usually opposes raising costs, says this one is necessary. "I have a house on the beach. I don't believe that anyone should subsidize my property insurance. I made the decision to do that."

In supporting higher Citizens rates, the governor says it's the classic case of pay me now or pay me later. We do want to make sure people can get insurance that people can afford.

In March, Citizens will also propose eliminating some coverage and requiring inspections on 30 year-old homes.

Seventeen thousand Citizens customers will be shifted to private companies in mid February and the insurer of last resort says private insurers are showing more interest in taking on Citizens policies than they have in recent years.

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