TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Florida’s so-called insurer of last resort, Citizens Property Insurance, hit a new milestone for the number of Floridians it serves, but rather than a positive, the company cited “continued instability” in the state’s market as the cause.
At the end of 2021, Citizens Property Insurance insured a total of 759,305 policies. In 2022, amid a year of constant crisis for the state’s insurance market, Citizens reported the number of policies they served had gone up to 1,145,178 policies. In November, it was 1,126,319.
In the Citizens 2023 operating budget report, outgoing president Barry Gilway and compay CFO Jennifer Montero wrote that they expect the number of policies insured will be close to 1.7 million, with “more than $51. billion in premium volume.” They said it was owing to “continued instability within the Florida insurance market.”
The Citizens executive summary said 2023 will be a higher premium than the company has ever had in its 20 year history. Compared to previous years, the company said it has had growth rates approaching 500%.
“In 2019, Citizens wrote $877 million in premium and insured roughly 447,000 policyholders –
reflecting projected 5-year growth rates in premium and policyholders of 486% and 276%, respectively,” the report reads.
The report also said that the company is working towards delivering value and stabilizing internal business operations to reach “strategic objectives,” such as reducing exposure, ensuring scalability, flexibility, and resiliency, and serving customers while reducing litigation.
Insurance litigation in Florida’s property insurance market has been one of the issues state lawmakers worked to address in a recent special legislative session. However, as a solution to coverage needs and increasing premiums, the law passed in December did not have an immediate impact on residential premiums, nor did it include a provision to directly lower costs to consumers.
Instead, Senate Bill 2A, touted as a market overhaul, adjusted policies and programs used to handle insolvency and litigation, lowering the amount of time that claims can be taken to court and adding penalties for violating new protections put in place for reimbursement and contracts to cover policies.
SB 2A also created a “prompt pay law” regulation for Florida’s Office of Insurance Regulation, while awarding one-way attorney fees for civil judgments.
The December special session was the second of 2022 to attempt addressing property insurance. However, while it passed what lawmakers called an overhaul, the session also included unrelated legislation such as a toll relief program, and disaster recovery programs for victims of hurricanes Ian and Nicole.
Shortly after the overhaul’s passage, David Altmeier, the state insurance commissioner, resigned.
For Florida’s insurance market, 2022 was a year of multiple companies exiting the state when it came to available insurers, as well as multiple companies entering insolvency, with their customers being shifted to Citizens, or other competitors.
Citizens said the “the increase in policy count will drive an increase in overall loss and loss adjustment expense activity.” The executive summary also reported a 13.5% increase in operating costs.