Citizens: Florida Policyholder Count Lowest Since Company Creation

March 19, 2015

Citizens Property Insurance Corp. is the smallest it has been since its creation more than a decade ago, as improving private-market conditions continue to offer policyholders more choices for how best to protect their homes, according to a statement by the insurer.

Speaking to the Citizens Board of Governors Wednesday in Maitland, Fla., Citizens President/CEO and Executive Director Barry Gilway said successful depopulation efforts, affordable reinsurance and a vibrant private market have combined to reduce Citizens policy count to 598,408, as of March 13.

Created by the Florida Legislature in 2002, Citizens handled about 602,000 policies in January 2003. Following an unprecedented string of storms in 2004-2005, that policy count peaked in November 2012 at nearly 1.5 million policies, about 26 percent of the Florida residential market.

Barring a major storm, Gilway told board members that Citizens could see its footprint shrink to as low as 450,000 policies as financially sound private companies assume policies that, even a year ago, were expected to remain with Citizens for years to come.

“The reality is that significant improvements in profitability and the increasing financial strength of private companies has been a major factor in our ability to return to our role as the state’s insurer of last resort,” Gilway said, following his presentation to the board.

Continuing favorable market conditions have prompted private companies to expand their coverage interests to multiple lines of business including coastal properties, wind-only policies and coverage for mobile homes.

“Insurance company appetite has broadened to lines of business than we had not envisioned even a year ago,” Gilway said. “If you would have told me, for example, that [private-market] companies would be interested in older mobile homes, I would not have believed you.”

Citizens expects to enter the 2015 hurricane season with surplus and reinsurance coverage to pay claims in the event of a 1-in-100 year storm without having to levy assessments on Florida policyholders, the statement said.

“I’m encouraged by all the progress that’s being made, not just at Citizens, but by the private market overall,” said Chris Gardner, chairman of Citizens’ Board of Governors. “It has truly been a joint effort between Citizens and all its partners that has brought such success.”

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