Florida’s Citizens Property Insurance Corp. reported that its policy count has dropped below one million for the first time since 2006.
The state-backed insurer said that recent takeout efforts, legislative initiatives and an improving private market have pushed Citizens’ exposure to the lowest level in more than seven years.
Policy counts show Citizens with 942,321 policies in force, a drop of 36 percent from a high of nearly 1.48 million policies in October 2012. The latest figure represents the first time Citizens has gone below 1 million policies since August 2006.
Exposure has fallen from a high of $515 billion in November 2011, to $302 billion, a drop of more than 41 percent.
“Today’s announcement marks the culmination of efforts from all Citizens’ stakeholders,” said Chris Gardner, chairman of the Citizens Board of Governors. “A lot of credit needs to go to the state leaders, insurance regulators and agents who have helped Citizens reach this critical milestone.”
The insurers said that depopulation efforts over the past few years have led to nearly 500,000 policies being shifted from Citizens to private carriers. Improving reinsurance markets have also allowed Citizens to transfer more risk to the private market.
As Citizens shrinks, so does the amount that could be assessed against taxpayers should Citizens not be able to pay all claims after a major storm.
“For most Floridians, the biggest news, certainly, is that we’ve reduced possible assessments from nearly $12 billion to under $4 billion following a 1-in-100 year storm,” said Citizens President/CEO and Executive Director Barry Gilway.
In January, Citizens launched the Property Insurance Clearinghouse, which will provide access to more private markets options and promises to further reduce the assessment risk.
Donovan Brown, state government relations counsel for the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI), said the depopulation of Citizens will benefit consumers.
“While we still have much work ahead of us to improve our market from the failed policies that ballooned Citizens, Florida’s residual market slipping below 1 million policies is proof we are moving in the right direction in protecting Floridians,” Brown said.
“We look forward to the day when Citizens is returned to its true purpose as Florida’s insurer of last resort,” he said.