HomeHome InsuranceUp to 100,000 Citizens policyholders could see new insurer, higher premiums by October

Up to 100,000 Citizens policyholders could see new insurer, higher premiums by October

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Up to 100,000 Citizens Property Insurance policyholders could be switched over to Tampa-based firm Slide Insurance by the end of October, according to a letter this week from the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation (FLOIR).

“Citizens was created to be Florida’s insurer of last resort,” said Michael Peltier with Citizens Property Insurance. “Now, we are the largest private insurer in the state.”

The state insurer is offloading homeowners policies faster than ever.

“I think, as far as the insurance market in Florida is concerned, I think that this is an encouraging sign,” Peltier said.

The letter from the FLOIR said Slide was approved to take over up to 100,000 policies from Citizens, but it doesn’t mean they’ll take on that many.

“That recommendation comes after they have looked over the company’s finances and deemed that they have the financial wherewithal and stability to assume those policies,” Peltier said.

Those with a Citizens’ policy right now could get a letter by the end of August with a proposed policy from Slide. People would have to reply by the first week of October, and the policies will be assumed by Oct. 17.

“Slide will take a look at our books, take a look at our portfolio,” Peltier said. “They will select the policies that they think would be a good match for their program, and they will send letters out to those policyholders.”

Slide might not make 100,000 offers to policyholders either. Earlier this year, they were approved to takeover 25,000 Citizens policies. Peltier said Slide ended up making about 24,000 offers.

“From our perspective, the fact that OIR has agreed to 100,000 policies from Slide — we don’t know yet how many policies they will actually be taking, but we think it’s kind of an encouraging sign that the market’s getting healthier,” Peltier said.

So will insurance premiums go up?

“What we have seen in recent depopulations, is that the offers have come in close to what current Citizens rates are,” Peltier said. “And in some cases, even below what Citizens was charging.”

But others say that’s a rosy prediction.

“It’s very easy for a current Citizens policyholder to gravitate towards it being a bad thing,” Ron Assise said. “And from an immediate standpoint, they very likely will be paying more.”

Assise is a Senior Vice President with The Horton Group, an insurance brokerage service.

Given that a homeowner is not eligible for Citizens as soon as they get another insurer offering them a premium within 20% of their current premium, Assise said he expects a lot of rates to increase.

But, he added, it’s necessary.

“The depopulation [of Citizens policies] is very necessary,” Assise said. “And at the end of the day, people are going to be forced to depopulate Citizens that are currently there.”

While it’s not a guarantee people will pay more with Slide or another insurer, Assise said Citizens was never meant to be the cheapest option.

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