Some insurance customers have nowhere to turn


Article and Video Courtesy of 

BayNews 9


Tuesday, August 7, 2007


Citizens Insurance used to just be used as the state-run insurer of last resort, but now it offers policies around the state, with lower rates.

However, Ginny Stevans of Pasco County lives inland, where Citizens charges $1,000 more than her private insurer, State Farm.

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The industry wants Citizens to back off, but some homeowners want to expand it again.



"When Citizens had all the rate disclosures that they had to be the highest in the state, then Citizens had to be higher than the highest top companies," said Stevans. "So, for people like those, they got a good break. But for the average person and their insurance, Citizens is not the answer."

Citizens' directors insist they can't afford to lower their rates, which is a main reason the program hasn't grown as fast as lawmakers predicted.

Nevertheless, while private companies' rates may be cheaper in some areas, they argue Citizens has an edge overall because it's a state-owned company that can pass on buying backup insurance, which most private companies have to do.

Gary Landry, spokesman for the Florida Insurance Council, calls the policy a big gamble.

"It's still a policy that creates an unfair advantage over the private industry when Citizens has the advantage of going to every taxpayer to make up the shortfall that it will incur should the big storm hit," said Landry.

Some lawmakers are calling for private insurers to testify under oath about why their rates are still so high. Meanwhile, Stevans and her Having Affordable Coverage group want a new insurance reform bill, and they'd like to see it passed as early as next month's special legislative session.