Governor Signs New Bill Concerning Florida Homeowners Insurance

The cost of Florida homeowners insurance and its availability has been an important issue that has been debated by state leaders for several years. As a solution to statewide insurance concerns, Citizens’ Property Insurance was created in 2002 and was established by the Florida Legislature in Section 627.351(6) of Florida Statutes as a not-for-profit insurer of last resort. As such, it offered to provide both general property insurance and windstorm coverage for homeowners who could not obtain insurance elsewhere. Citizens has grown over the last decade to be the state of Florida’s largest insurance company with about 1.3 million policies.

Florida Governor Rick Scott signed a new billFlorida Governor Rick Scott signed a new bill, which takes effect July 1, that creates a clearinghouse for Citizens’ Property Insurance, so homeowners can compare Citizens’ rates to coverage available through the private market. Under the clearinghouse, homeowners with Citizens who receive a comparable insurance rate from a private insurer will be forced into the private market. Governor Scott said, “With SB 1770 now in place, I have asked Chief Inspector General Melinda Miguel to immediately join with other Cabinet offices and begin a nationwide search for the new Citizens Inspector General. Through this transparent process, the State’s IG will work together with the IGs of the Chief Financial Officer and the Office of Insurance Regulation to find an applicant that will vetted and ultimately approved by the Financial Services Commission. This new Inspector General will be accountable to the Cabinet and will not be an employee that Citizens can fire, as they did with their old compliance officer. A strong Inspector General is needed to provide independent oversight at Citizens and to end the many problems that have plagued Citizens for too long and led to a lack of public confidence.”

This new bill also prohibits Citizens from insuring newly built homes that are located right on the water, reduces the maximum home value for a Citizens policy to $700,000 over three years and requires Citizens to follow state guidelines on contracting. “At the end of the day, Citizens’ responsibility is to be the insurer of last resort,” Citizens CEO Barry Gilway said in a statement. “By definition, we should be the company that is retaining the business that other companies are unwilling to (carry).”

All Florida homeowners should annually review their Florida homeowners insurance coverage. Erb and Young Insurance offers Free Homeowners Insurance reviews and specializes in creating customized Florida homeowners insurance policies. By going over the big picture and analysing the fine print, we will make sure that you have the right coverage to keep you and your assets protected by an insurance policy that is the right fit for you.

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