TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — 8 On Your Side is following two breaking developments for Citizens’ policyholders. Bad news could be coming any day now for its over 1 million customers. Citizens has asked for a rate increase, and the final approval is expected soon. But the company didn’t get everything it wanted.
Florida’s Insurance Commissioner Michael Yaworsky is in charge of approving or denying rate hikes. Some have accused him of rubber-stamping premium increases.
In his 25 years in Tampa Bay, Jim Nastelli has never filed an insurance claim. Yet, last year, he suddenly lost his coverage.
Like 1.3 million Floridians, Jim was forced to get a policy with Citizens, the state-backed insurer.
In recent weeks, the retiree has been closely following the back-and-forth between Citizens and Florida regulators.
“That just might put us over the edge,” said Jim. “A 12% increase would probably do it for me.”
A 12% increase was not approved by Commissioner Yaworsky. At a hearing in June, Yaworsky listened as Citizens made their case. They wanted to raise rates, on average 12.6%.
The insurer said it was necessary: more policies meant more exposure, but Commissioner Yaworsky took issue with the increase, asking for revisions.
Now, Citizens has turned in their revised rates. It’s slightly reduced. Instead of 12.6%, Citizens is now asking for about 11.5%.
“We’re looking for an average increase of about 11.5%for most homeowners,” said Citizens’ spokesman Michael Peltier. “Beginning Dec. 16, these new rates will kick in, once we get final approval from the office.”
So, when will homeowners see rate reductions?
“It’s still to come, I think that we are seeing encouraging signs in the market right now,” said Mr. Peltier. “We are seeing renewed interest from private carriers to come into the state to expand their portfolios in the state.”
The 11.5% increase will apply to most single-family homeowners. State regulators are expected to make a decision soon.
Approximately 300,000 customers should receive a letter in the mail, asking them to switch from Citizens to a private insurance company.
If they don’t respond to that letter by Oct. 10, they may be forced to get a more costly policy with a private carrier.
So make sure you open your mail.
If you have a tip, question or comment, email Mahsa at MSaeidi@WFLA.com