Florida regulators Friday approved with minor changes a 2017 rate increase for state-run Citizens Property Insurance Corp. averaging more than 6 percent statewide and about 9 percent for Palm Beach County homeowners.
State Sen. Anitere Flores, R-Miami, called the rate hike a “slap in the face” of consumers, the News Service of Florida reported.
“Not only are law abiding policyholders being punished for those abusing the system, they are being forced to comply with an increase that is not even across the board throughout the state,” Flores said in a statement, according to the news service.
Among the few tweaks, Citizens had asked for a 6.9 percent statewide increase for “multi-peril” home policies — covering fire and other risks, not just wind — and the Office of Insurance Regulation approved a boost of 6.4 percent.
Regulators said in an order they “utilized slightly lower water loss trends” adjusted for the company’s shrinking size, now under 493,000 customers. About one in 10 of its customers is in Palm Beach County.
Company officials argued inflated costs in South Florida from non-storm claims like water damage from a broken pipe have been a major driver of rate increases.
“The 2017 rates reflect the growing challenge of rising water loss claims and the disturbing increased costs associated with assignment of benefits,” Citizens president Barry Gilway said in a statement. “Unless the legislature takes action, our policyholders can expect these increases for years to come.”
Otherwise, regulators approved increases that closely matched what the company requested, such as an 8.2 percent boost for wind-only homeowner policies and 5.7 percent for mobile home owners. Mobile homes with wind-only coverage will see an average 10.3 percent increase.
Approved rates were not available by county, but under the company’s original request the average annual premium for a standard homeowner policy known as an HO3 in Palm Beach County would jump 9 percent to $2,668 from $2,448.