Florida lawmakers are moving to dramatically shrink 'Citizens Insurance.' It's the only option for those homeowners living in areas so susceptible to storms they can't get coverage elsewhere. The push is being spearheaded by industry lobbyists and the governor.
There's a gathering storm in Florida over just who will pay if a cataclysmic hurricane hits. With 1-point-3 million homeowners covered by the state-run Citizens Insurance Corporation, industry lobbyist Sam Miller says you, the taxpayer, would have to foot the multi-billion dollar bill.
“Citizens and the cat fund together, after a major hurricane when the national economy might be messed up and the Florida economy might be messed up, would have to sell, incur as much debt as the state of Florida has right now,” Miller said. “Can we do that? I don't know if we can do that or not.”
So, Monday the powerful Senate Budget Committee took up an industry-backed bill that would force hundreds-of-thousands of Citizens customers to find new, private coverage. It would hike rates by as much as 20 percent for everyone else.
And it's come to light Gov. Scott had a heavy hand in crafting the legislation, which accomplishes half his goal of wiping out Citizens altogether.
Maverick republican Mike Fasano is livid.
“I don't think the governor truly understands the impact this would have on ratepayers, but especially those who are in Citizens, especially those in the Tampa Bay area and throughout the coastal areas of the state of Florida, because that's the only insurance of last resort, if you will, that's available to them.”
...That is, without turning to unregulated insurance policies that could carry a price tag so hefty the only option is to move out.
Even industry leaders disagree with the governor on killing Citizens outright. To hear it from them, they only want a more competitive marketplace.
Under the bill, Citizens customers with homes worth more than a half-million dollars would see their policies dropped in 2016.