Insurer Citizens pushes for tougher laws as switch offers dwindle

Top officers at state-run Citizens Property Insurance Corp. advocated for laws to fix what they call abuses in South Florida claims Wednesday as offers from private insurers to take its customers dwindled to 15,000 from a single company in April.

Citizens blames inflated claims for hazards like plumbing leaks for raising premiums across the board and posing “a real threat to the affordability of insurance,” Citizens board chairman Chris Gardner told The Palm Beach Post editorial board Wednesday.

Citizens.jpgGroups representing contractors and attorneys don’t agree on all the changes Citizens and other insurers want, saying some unduly restrict a consumer’s right to be represented by a third party in a claim.

On Thursday, executives from across the insurance industry and state officials will gather in Miami at the Florida Chamber of Commerce insurance summit to discuss that and other issues.

Whether because of water-claims concerns or other reasons, the appetite among private insurers to take Citizens customers is clearly on the decline. In fact, the state-run company expects to add customers overall in 2017.

That’s a big sea change. About 1 million Citizens customers have taken offers to switch to private insurers in recent years, leaving it with less than 500,000 policies. About one in 10 of those is in Palm Beach County.

Transfer activity has slowed down sharply. On Thursday, state regulators said they approved 15,000 offers from Southern Oak Insurance Co. for April.

There were no takeouts for March. In addition, Citizens customers are often refusing offers they do get. A state summary  says the number of people who have accepted offers to switch in 2017 is unavailable.

 

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