Florida homeowners who secure coverage through the state-backed property insurer will see their rates increase by a statewide average 6.3 percent based on a ruling by state regulators.
Homeowners with multiperil policies will see a 4.4 percent increase – or about $111 per policy — as part of the average hike when the rates take effect next January. Homeowners with wind-only policies will see an average 10.5 percent increase or about $265 per policy when their rates take effect as of February 1, 2014.
Citizens Property Insurance Corp. filed for a statewide average 7.3 percent increase in the insurer’s combined wind-only and multiperil homeowners rates. Regulators reduced that to 6.3 percent, which includes a base rate, plus sinkhole coverage where applicable and the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund cash build-up factorof 4.87 percent.
This is the fourth consecutive year that Citizens’ homeowners rates have gone up.
In addition to the increases in homeowners’ rates statewide, regulators approved an increase in sinkhole rates in three counties.
In a public hearing held last month, Citizens officials said that reforms enacted by lawmakers in 2011 helped reduce sinkhole losses by an estimated 52 percent. Even so, however, the insurer’s said losses still justified a 207 percent increase in sinkhole rates with the majority of that need located in three counties.
Regulators placed a 20 percent cap in sinkhole rate increases in Pasco and Hernando counties and a 50 percent cap in Hillsborough County.
Homeowners’ sinkhole coverage in those counties will still see substantial increases. For example, in Pasco County the average premium for sinkhole coverage is $1,829. Under the new rates, that number will grow to $2,195 or $366 per policy.
Homeowners in Hernando County will see an average $338 increase in premiums for a total of $2,026. In Hillsborough County the increase will average $191 for a total of $574.
In the state’s other 64 counties, no other sinkhole rate increases will be applied to homeowners’ multiperil policies.
Another line of business that will see an increase is in Citizens dwelling and fire wind only rates and dwelling and fire multiperil rates. Regulators, taking into effect the statutory 10 percent cap, applied the maximum rates to those policies.
Citizens President Barry Gilway said the new rates will assist the insurer in meeting its goal of reaching actuarially sound rates.
It remains to be seen just how many homeowners will see an increase. The Office of Insurance Regulation just approved a plan by 10 insurers to remove 400,000 policies as of the end of hurricane season in November.
Traditionally, however, the difference between the number of policies sought by private insurers and the number of polices actually removed from Citizens is some 30 percent.
Citizens officials are also optimistic that the establishment of the clearinghouse next year whereby policies will first be shopped to the private market will eventually led to a significant drop in the numbers of policies covered by Citizens.