Senate Advances Bill to Reduce Number of Citizens' Policies

The Florida Senate on Monday advanced, with little debate, an effort to reform and reduce the number of policies held by state-backed Citizens Property Insurance.

Senate President Mike Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, moved the bill, SB 1860, to a third and final vote noting the limit on time Monday and the desire for a number of senators seeking to debate the issue.

Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, has questioned the bill for allowing third parties, known as surplus-line carriers, to take over policies from the bloated Citizens.

Surplus-line carriers are not regulated by the Office of Insurance Regulation and can differ greatly from the state’s admitted insurers, a point opponents of the bill have pushed repeatedly. 

Sen. Garrett Richter, R-Naples, the sponsor of SB 578, said surplus-line carriers are already in the state, handling approximately 90,000 residential policies and that the state insurance commission can prohibit a carrier from continuing in the state if they failed to pay claims in a “reasonable” amount of time.

“We’re not changing the way surplus-line are handled at all, all we’re doing is expanding the number of companies that are eligible to remove policies from Citizens,” Richter said.

With 1.47 million policyholders at the start of the year, the goal for Citizens is to shave 7 percent of its risk, including $1 billion in coverage from properties that overlook the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico, reducing the number of overall policies to 800,000.

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