Citizens Insurance will help homeowners

Article Courtesy of The Sun Sentinel

By Barry Gilway

Published October 11, 2014


With so many property insurance choices now available to Florida consumers, it is more important than ever that homeowners work closely with their agents to determine their best insurance options. Your agent is the most valuable resource when making decisions about how best to protect your home and family.

With guidance from the Legislature and Florida regulators, Citizens has made important strides to help bring expanded choices to our customers. Private-market alternatives help our customers by offering them better, more comprehensive coverage that does not carry the risk of large Citizens policyholder assessments.

For example, a typical Broward County homeowner with $300,000 in private-market coverage could save more than $700 in assessments over a Citizens policyholder if a 1-in-100 year storm hits.

Citizens has two programs that help homeowners find coverage with Office of Insurance Regulation approved private-market companies; the Property Insurance Clearinghouse and the Depopulation Program. The clearinghouse helps match new policyholders with companies willing to cover their homes for prices not more than 15 percent higher than a Citizens premium.

Existing customers will be ineligible for Citizens coverage only if the private-offer premium is equal to or less than their renewal policy.

The Depopulation Program allows companies to offer coverage to a large number of Citizens policyholders at the same time. This year alone, more than 125,000 policyholders have chosen to accept coverage from private-market companies through the program, a number expected to more than double by January.

Both programs ask our customers to make important choices. Citizens has made a concerted effort to provide policyholders and their agents with the information they need to make informed decisions about any offers they receive.
We've done this through extensive direct contact with our policyholders and their agents. Additional information is available at .

Most people only pull out their insurance policy when something bad happens, rightfully expecting their insurance company will be there for them when the unthinkable occurs. Citizens and state regulators must ensure consumers have the information to make informed decisions, including whether the companies they rely upon are financially sound.

All participating clearinghouse and depopulation companies have been vetted by OIR and Demotech, Inc., Florida's leading property and casualty rating agency. As admitted Florida companies, private market insurers also are backed by the Florida Insurance Guaranty Association and the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund. More information is available at 

After eight years with no hurricanes, Florida's property insurance market is flush with well-capitalized companies that have passed regulatory and rating agency muster. These companies are ready to do business in Florida and that means Florida homeowners and their agents have some important choices to make.

We know we are asking a lot, but we are confident that given the information they need to make informed decisions, our customers can make the right choice for themselves and their families.

Barry Gilway is president/CEO and executive director of Citizens Property Insurance Corporation.