and Video Courtesy of
August 7, 2007
Insurance used to just be used as the state-run insurer of last
resort, but now it offers policies around the state, with lower
However, Ginny Stevans of Pasco County lives inland, where Citizens
charges $1,000 more than her private insurer, State Farm.
industry wants Citizens to back off, but some homeowners want to
expand it again.
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