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Florida turns up heat on property owners
Insurance regulators in Florida approved a 10.8 percent rate hike for Citizens Property Insurance Corp. to reduce the program’s size, a state senator said.
Set up by the state as a property insurance plan for those without property insurance, the state government now contends that the program charges property owners less than market value, which could put the state’s taxpayers at risk in the event of a major storm, the Tampa Bay, Fla., Times reported Wednesday.
“This is the mentality of Tallahassee — raise rates as high as you can, force people out,” said Republican state Sen. Mike Fasano.
The rates follow a pattern of higher expenses and lower benefits for property owners, including increased deductibles for storm damage, higher rates and the elimination of discounts, the newspaper said.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott has supported the effort to shrink the state insurance program, which covers 1.4 million people, the Times said.
With the latest rate hike, the Times said the average insurance bill will increase by $250 per year once their insurance plans are renewed.
Private companies are also moving in on households made more vulnerable by the rate increase.
Five companies are sending out 210,000 letters to offer to take over policies from the state program. The homeowners will then have 30 days to switch to a private firm or their contracts will be taken over automatically by a private company, the Times said.
“Citizens is pleased that Insurance Commissioner (Kevin) McCarty has approved its measured approach to achieving sound rates and reducing the potential financial burden of assessments for all Floridians,” Christine Ashburn, a spokeswoman for the program, said.”
Copyright 2012 by United Press International