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Fight for Trimming Citizens Continues

While business and environmental advocates that support the down seizing of Citizens Property Insurance Corporation expect that a new bill to that effect will soon be passed, others opposed to some of the methods for trimming the size of the state backed insurer, are filing bills of their own to insure that such methods are never implemented. 

For example, according to sunshinestatenews.com, supporters of a smaller Citizens expect the passing of a new bill that could include any (or all) of the following measures:

  1. Doing away with the legislatively imposed 10 percent cap on annual premium increases;
  2. Creating a clearing house for private insurers to "cherry pick" accounts;
  3. Leaving Citizens with only the most risky or uninsurable areas as it was originally intended to be;
  4. Breaking up Citizens Property Insurance Corporation into smaller, more manageable units depending on coverage.

Among these supporters are environmental groups, like the Florida Wildlife Federation, that want a complete overhaul of the state's property insurance market in hopes of making developers think twice before expanding construction to endangered coastal areas.

To that end, Jay Liles, policy consultant for the Florida Wildlife Federation, recently stated "the 2013 state legislative session provides our elected officials with another opportunity to reform both Citizens Property Insurance Corp. and the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund, while ending unnecessary state subsidies for high-risk coastal development." He subsequently continued saying "the Florida Legislature needs to implement thoughtful legislation that will protect Floridians as well as our state's wildlife and coastal habitats."

Similarly, business groups like the Florida Chamber of Commerce and Associated Industries of Florida would specially like to remove the cap imposed by the legislature, as they contend that the low, capped rates at Citizens have kept the private insurance market from growing and therefore, capital from coming back into the State.

In fact, David Christian, vice-president of government affairs of the Florida Chamber of Commerce recently declared in front of the Florida Senate Banking and Insurance Committee "every business and property owner in Florida should be aware of the ramifications if policymakers do not take steps to reform the state's property insurance market." Subsequently, Mr. Christian declared that the legislation sought out by them should not only return Citizens to being the actual insurer of last resort, but should also cause the Florida Catastrophe Fund to be re-categorized as a supplement to private insurance, not a replacement.

Opposing Arguments

According to miamiherald.com, State Representative Jose Feliz Diaz, R-Miami, is among those that oppose the measures being proposed to help shrink the size of Citizens. He is adamantly opposed to doing away with the 10 percent annual cap imposed by the legislature on increasing Citizens' rates.

Representative Diaz compares the consequences of an uncapped insurance rate system to those created when property taxes were capped via "Save Our Homes", where new homeowners pay significantly more than old homeowners. To that extent he has recently said "by failing to boldly reform our state's tax structure and simply maintaining property taxes for old homeowners artificially low, many of those (new) homeowners became trapped in their homes." He feels that uncapped insurance rates would create an unsustainable financial burden on South Floridians.

Consequently, he has formed an alliance with Senator Anitere Flores (R-Miami) to file his first bill, HB 107, which is intended to stop those trying to do away with the legislative caps on their tracks. Moreover, according to Representative Diaz, HB 107 is only the first of many he plans to introduce, from "creating an inspector general that oversees their operations to demanding more accountability from the insurance company."

We Can Help

You should always have an attorney help you review your policy and advise you on what coverage you should have and for how much. If you are about to renew your policy (with the same insurer or a new one), we can help you review it and make sure you are adequately covered and in a position to avoid costly expenses should disaster strike.

Moreover, please note that if your home has already sustained damages, even if you are not sure if those are "a covered loss," or if you don't think the loss will exceed your deductible, our team of loss consultants, paralegals and attorneys will assist you in determining if you have coverage and if so, represent you in every aspect of your claim. Our loss consultant will even go to your home to evaluate the damage you sustained at no cost or obligation to you. Contact us today for a free inspection by our loss consultant.

With more than 100 years of combined experience, the Miami Dade County Homeowners Insurance Claims Law Offices of Greenberg Stone and Urbano have helped thousands of Homeowners all over Florida review their policies, present their claims and get the compensation owed them by their insurance carrier. Visit our website to learn more about our firm and contact us today for a free consultation.

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