Florida's State-Created Property Insurer Will Raise Rates

Florida homeowners who insure their property through a state-created insurance company will see an average 6.6 percent increase in their multi-peril coverage next year, regulators announced Wednesday.

But thanks to Hurricane Irma, the increase will be pushed back three months to May 1. The state Office of Insurance Regulation was supposed to approve Citizen Property Insurance Corporation's rate request in September, but delayed the decision after the state was slammed by Irma, the first major hurricane to hit Florida since 2005.

The degree to which the rates will increase — or in some areas go down — depends on where property is located. Some of the most populated areas like Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach will see average increases topping 10 percent.

But regulators didn't increase rates in the Florida Keys, the area hit hardest by Irma, instead directing Citizens to analyze lessons learned after the storm.

"The Office of Insurance Regulation's 2018 rate order balances the needs of policyholders facing challenges from Irma with its responsibility to maintain a healthy property insurance market," Chris Gardner, chairman of Citizens' board of governors, said in a news release.

Citizens was created by state legislators to act as the state's insurer of last resort when Floridians cannot get coverage from private companies. Many of the corporations' customers live along the coast or in South Florida.

Statewide, commercial property owners will see an average multi-peril increase of 8.1 percent. Mobile homeowners will see an average increase of 3.9 percent for multi-peril coverage,

The rates set were nearly identical or slightly lower than what Citizens requested before Irma.

Irma caused $1.2 billion dollars in losses for Citizens, which expects about 70,000 claims from the storms, though the corporation had enough in reserves to cover the cost and has more than $6 billion available for future storms.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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