Big Overhaul Coming for Major Florida Insurance Company?

Citizens: It's Florida's state-run property insurance company.

With more than a million policies, it's also the state's largest insurer.

That's why revelations of office scandals and lavish corporate getaways aren't sitting well with state leaders.

Now, Citizens could be in for a major overhaul.

If there's one thing citizens insurance has no shortage of, it's drama.

From office romances to globe-trotting big spending executives, the state-run insurance company's been full of mismanagement.

We only know about it because a team of company watchdogs uncovered it - and then they were let go: a move that looked to a lot of people like retribution.

But a new report by the governor's Inspector General finds it was nothing more than bad timing.

Citizens president Barry Gilway agrees. He says, “The bad decision was not to eliminate the Office of Corporate Integrity. The bad decision was how we did it: dumb.”

Still, the report's calling for Citizens to hire one top-level executive to be in charge of nothing else but rooting out wrongdoing.

For years now, Citizens has been taking heat from more than a few lawmakers here at the capitol who complain it's grown too big, too fast and is in real need of reform.

Now the controversy in the front office is helping their cause.

They say the fact company executives have wasted time and money is all the more reason to hand policies over to better-run but potentially more expensive private companies.

But that could be a rush to judgement, and Dan Krassner with Integrity Florida thinks a powerful new citizens watchdog is overdue. Krassner adds, “Citizens Property Insurance sometimes is not popular, especially with ratepayers when their rates go up, so having someone in an inspector general role, reporting to us, the people and the legislature, inside of Citizens, to keep an eye on waste, fraud and abuse will be a great addition.”

Because of its size, Citizens carries the most risk of any Florida property insurer.

But there's good news, if a Major Hurricane were to hit, the company would likely have enough cash on hand to cover all of its losses.

New projections show Florida's catastrophe fund is worth 12 billion dollars - better than at any other point in its 20-year history.


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