TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Citizens Property Insurance is asking state regulators to approve another rate hike.

During a public rate hearing in Tallahassee on Thursday, the state’s insurer of last resort said they need a double-digit increase.

But why? Will it happen and when? 8 On Your Side Investigator Mahsa Saeidi has the latest details.

Whenever a private insurance company wants to increase rates, they must ask the state for approval. But when Citizens wants to do it, they don’t just have to ask—they also have to hold a public hearing and make their case.

“This is a fact finding hearing, it is an opportunity for input by the public and interested parties, it is not an adversarial hearing,” said Florida’s Insurance Commissioner Michael Yaworsky who is in charge of approving or denying property insurance rate hikes.

The focus of the hearing on Thursday was a request from state-backed Citizens Property Insurance.

Tim Cerio is the President and CEO of Citizens

“We take asking for a rate increase very seriously,” said Tim Cerio, the company’s president and CEO.

Cerio says rates are artificially low and need a double-digit increase.

On average, they want to raise rates for homeowners approximately 12 percent, effective Nov. 1.

Florida homeowners are already struggling with the high cost of insurance. Just this week, we introduced you to Citizens policyholder Charles Frankel who says he’s planning to move to North Carolina because Florida is just too expensive.

“It’s a lot of things to worry about at my age,” Charles said.

Citizens policies have doubled over the past two years. It currently has 1.3 million. The insurer says more policies means more exposure.

Should a big storm hit, they say all Florida taxpayers would potentially be on the hook for Citizens’ claims.

“Since 2020, the private market has increased the rates by 39%…and this is a conservative estimate,” said Brian Donovan, the Chief Actuary at Citizens. “During that time, Citizens increased its rates 15%, so Citizens rates that have historically been below the private market, that distance continues to grow due to the glide path.”

Yaworsky is not going to make a decision on this for at least a few more weeks.

If you have a message for the commissioner, you have until June 22 to send him an email. You can send it to ratehearings@floir.com with the subject line “Citizens Property Insurance Corporation.”

If you have a tip for Mahsa, send her an email at MSaeidi@WFLA.com.