After Hurricane Andrew and continuing to this day, Florida home insurance companies have continued to pull out of the state or seek significant rate increases. Why? Because both Florida homeowners insurance companies and state regulators can’t seem to agree on the right amount that consumers should pay for the hurricane portion of their Florida home insurance bill.
As a result, beginning in the 1990’s, Florida started to impose special assessments on every Florida homeowners insurance policy issued and created a state run insurance company of last resort that is called Citizens Property Insurance Corporation to ensure that everyone in Florida can get home insurance coverage for their home.
The state also created an entity called The Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund that requires all licensed Florida home insurance companies to purchase reinsurance once the cost of a major hurricane exceeds a certain level. This find serves as insurance for Florida home insurance companies and is designed to ensure that the companies don’t have to absorb all of the costs of a major hurricane event directly.
Last but not least, Florida has an entity called the Florida Insurance Guaranty Association (FIGA) that steps in to pay your claim up to a certain level if your Florida home insurance company runs out of money and is declared insolvent.
Those special assessment line items on your Florida home insurance bill can cause you to pay line item charges for many years into the future. You can be asked to make up the difference when Citizens Property Insurance Corporation and the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund don’t have the money to meet their obligations. Or you could be asked to make up the difference if FIGA doesn’t have the resources to pay off all of the claims of policyholders who were with a Florida home insurance company that became insolvent.
So far, at high level, each of these various entities and the protections that they offer make sense. And when they work properly they do help further diversify Florida’s hurricane risk and help make it attractive for Florida home insurance companies to continue to do business in the state.
However, the Florida Property Insurance Legislation of 2007 and 2008 have changed and politicized the mission of each of these organizations to a point where they no longer work as they were intended. Why? Because Florida legislators aren’t willing to tell voters the truth – that these entities are now seriously underfunded and not positioned to do what they are supposed to do. Even worse, many Florida consumers don’t realize that they are paying for someone else’s Florida home insurance.
Presently, both the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund and Citizens Insurance Florida do not have enough money and are overly dependent on an unfriendly bond market to satisfy their responsibilities. Both have to try to borrow in advance of Florida hurricanes with mixed success to raise the cash that they need and are coming up short as the country works through the financial crisis.
Citizens Property Insurance Corporation is the one organization that causes each of us to subsidize the Florida insurance costs of someone else. All of us will be paying annual special assessments for years to come for the cash shortfalls that Citizens experienced during the 2004/2005 storms. Cash shortfalls are just another way of saying that those who were insured with Citizens for the 2004/2005 storms, were simply not charged enough premium for that coverage. Many of those homes are older homes that are located in areas of Florida that are the most susceptible to hurricanes. After the 2004/2005 Florida hurricanes, Florida lawmakers froze the rates being charged by Citizens – a politically popular decision that also resulted in everyone in Florida subsidizing the homeowner insurance rates of others who live in the areas most vulnerable to hurricanes.
Last but not least, because the rates of Citizens have been frozen for the past few years, even when consumers can find Florida home insurance in the private market, they are still given the choice of being insured by Citizens and being undercharged for their insurance.
This subsidized insurance that many Citizen policyholders receive, comes at a price. It is funded mainly through special assessments that all of us are required to pay on our Florida homeowners insurance bills each year. These assessments have become so burdensome, that Florida home insurance policies don’t come close to being able to pay the tab. That’s why you’ll see many of them on your Florida auto and business insurance bills as well.
If you are tired of paying the Florida home insurance bills of someone else, right now is the time to have your voice heard during the current session of the Florida Legislature. Tell the lawmakers that you’ve voted for and sent to Tallahassee that you want the Florida home insurance rates of Citizens Property Insurance Corporation raised to reflect the true cost of the homes they are covering.
By Ganossi from Pixabay