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Citizens Insurance board approves 2025 rate hike of 14%, state regulators now need to sign off

'The rates recommended by the board today seek to continue the move towards actuarially sound rates,' Citizens says in statement
Posted at 11:12 AM, Jun 20, 2024

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — If you're using the state-backed insurer of last resort — a premium hike is now one step closer to reality. The governing board for Citizens Property Insurance agreed Wednesday morning to advance a double-digit increase for many of its 1.2 million policyholders. That'll likely mean hundreds of more dollars out of pocket for those already struggling with high prices.

In their virtual meeting, the Citizens Property Insurance's board unanimously said yes to that sizable bump in premiums for many of its policyholders. State insurance regulators still need to give final approval, but if they do, an average 14% increase for personal line policies in 2025. That covers homeowners, condo owners, mobile homes, and more.

"The rates recommended by the board today seek to continue the move towards actuarially sound rates while reflecting the benefits gained from recent legislative reforms," Citizens said in a statement. "Citizens' premiums remain well below the filed and approved rates of most private insurance companies writing in the state. The 2025 proposed rates will help reduce the risk of assessments on non-Citizens policyholders, many of whom are already paying higher premiums."

According to Citizens' projections, average premiums would jump hundreds of dollars. In Miami-Dade, $699. Palm Beach, $670. Places like Hillsborough and Pinellas — $360.

Citizens Property Insurance

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"I'm really concerned with the next year or the next round of insurance renewal is going to be for us," said Willie Butts, an Apopka resident.

Butts told us a series of increases was exactly what he feared last year. It came after a private provider surged its prices so high the veteran was essentially forced to take Citizens rates and its proposed increases.

"I had no other choice in that move," Butts said.

But the market is better these days, so say regulators and Florida’s governor. When asked about the rate increases, Wednesday, Gov. Ron DeSantis listed potential signs of stabilization after years of tort reform to curb insurance lawsuits.

Florida has eight new insurers that have joined its private market. Ten others have filed for flat rates in the coming year. Plus, another eight are seeking small decreases.

"The only reason you're seeing companies come into Florida," DeSantis said, "the only reason you're seeing those types of rate filings in the private market, is because we did reforms to bring some sense to this market."

DeSantis also went on to blame inflation— and the federal government for Florida’s woes.

Citizens, meanwhile, has been trying to shed policies. It’s all part of a plan, backed by the Legislature, to decrease taxpayer exposure and avoid competition with the private market.

Critics however continue to say it’s not enough. Florida Democrats this month launching billboards like this across the state and making the GOP's handling of insurance a main talking point heading into November's election.

"For 30 years, one party has controlled the state, and look what's happened," said Florida Democrats Chair Nikki Fried. "We have the highest teacher shortage in the nation. The highest inflation across the country, because Republicans refuse to get the benefits the rest of the people of our state— that the rest of the country is seeing because of Joe Biden."

But beyond the Bidenomics debate, back here in Florida that Citizens' rate increase is closer to a reality. The next step is a meeting with state regulators. Officials at the Office of Insurance Regulation said to expect an in-person meeting targeted for the second or third week of July.