- Florida Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty today signed an Order
approving Citizens' take-out plans for the year and requiring Citizens Property Insurance Corp. (Citizens) to notify policyholders whose agents have refused to allow their policies to be removed from Citizens. The plans also provide for the first take-outs of commercial-residential or condominium association policies.
Under current Florida law, companies approved to remove policyholders from Citizens, known as take-out companies, must first get permission from the policyholder's agent. If the agent is unable or unwilling to transfer the Citizens' policy to the take-out company, the policy stays in Citizens. As a time-saving measure, Citizens notifies take-out companies of agencies that will not agree to take-outs. Because take-out companies have been instructed to avoid selecting policies from these agencies that do not consent to take-outs, the policyholders may never know that a take-out offer was received.
"Without requiring policyholders to be informed that they could be moved into the private market at or below their current premium, the take-out process fails to provide real consumer choice and is contrary to state objectives to reduce the exposure of Citizens," said Commissioner McCarty. "Thousands of Citizens' policyholders who may have been kept in the dark under the old process now will have the opportunity to decide for themselves if they wish to be removed from Citizens and placed with a private insurer."
Beginning May 1, the Order requires Citizens to send all qualified policies to take-out companies for selection without instructing them not to choose qualified policies from a list of agents and agencies that have refused in the past. If the agent refuses the take-out, Citizens must notify the policyholder of their agent's refusal and provide the take-out company's contact information should the policyholder wish to be removed from Citizens.
Commissioner McCarty also announced today that the Office of Insurance Regulation (Office) has approved the plans of 10 insurance companies to remove policies from Citizens over the next year.
Some of the companies already have begun removing policies, and others will begin in April. Taken as a whole, the approved plans will remove over 400,000 policies from the state-run insurance company and place them in the private market. Florida law allows Citizens' policyholders, to refuse the offer and stay in Citizens. All of the take-out companies have agreed to offer the same or better coverage than the policyholder had with Citizens, and at the same or lower price.
"Many of these companies are among the more than 20, licensed in Florida since 2006, that have brought over $3.4 billion in new capital into the marketplace," said Commissioner McCarty. "The fact that they are standing in line to remove hundreds of thousands of policies from Citizens is a testament to an increasingly competitive market."
The 10 companies that have been approved to remove Citizens policies are:
- American Integrity Insurance Co. of Florida: 75,000 policies total; 34,812 removed to date.
- First Home Insurance Co.: 30,000 policies total; 10,788 removed to date.
- Landmark One Insurance Co.: 50,000 policies total; 10,995 removed to date.
- Florida Peninsula Insurance Co.: 80,000 policies total; 16,272 removed to date.
- HomeWise Preferred Insurance Co.: 62,000 policies total; 11,789 removed to date.
- Southern Oak Insurance Co.: 75,000 policies total; 6,678 removed to date.
- Homeowners Choice Property & Casualty Insurance Co.: 30,000 policies total; 9,548 removed to date.
- Northern Capital Insurance Co.: 20,000 policies total; 4,023 removed to date.
- Sunshine State Insurance Co.: 23,607 policies total; 4,412 removed to date.
- Argus Fire & Casualty Insurance Co. : 18,000 policies total.
Policyholders receive a letter
from the take-out company letting them know that their policy has been selected for removal from Citizens. The policyholders are requested to send an e-mail or return a portion of the letter if they want to refuse the offer and stay in Citizens. Non-homestead policyholders particularly have a higher assessment risk with Citizens than in the voluntary market. Therefore, most policyholders who receive such an offer will accept it.
"The letter explains the policy removal process, so policyholders should read the letter carefully," added McCarty, "and, if they have any questions, they should work with their agent or contact the take-out company directly."