Few switch from Citizens insurance as up to 50,000 Oct. offers await

Up to 50,000 transfer offers are in the pipeline for October, but customers of state-run Citizens Property Insurance Corp. are accepting less than 10 percent of the offers regulators approved so far in 2017.

That’s 13,460 accepted offers to transfer to private insurers this year compared to 139,244 offers approved by the state’s Office of Insurance Regulation as the heart of hurricane season draws near.

Readers can compare financial safety ratings and complaint information about Citizens and private companies at The Palm Beach Post’s Insurance Explorer.

Private companies don’t necessarily follow through with the maximum offers they are allowed, and up to 19,520 August offers are still outstanding, but the bottom line is still a relative trickle leaving Florida’s second largest property insurer.

Citizens downsized to fewer than 500,000 customers from a high of 1.5 million five years ago, largely through such offers. Customers are automatically switched unless they take pains to decline. About 10 percent of the company’s customers live in Palm Beach County.

Now offers from private insurers are slowing down as many remaining Citizens customers are becoming choosier about taking offers if they don’t see clear advantages in price or coverage.

Approved for October offers are Safepoint Insurance Co. (35,000) and Southern Oak Insurance Co. (15,000). No offers were made for September.

Meanwhile, the Citizens board finds itself without a representative from Palm Beach County. Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis announced the appointment of former Florida Senate president John M. McKay of Bradenton to the board Tuesday, a day after Wellington accounting executive Juan Cocuy’s three-year term ended. Cocuy did not seek reappointment, according to company officials.

Chris Gardner, who has been chairman since 2013, received another term on the board  as Gov. Rick Scott appointed him, this time to fill a vacant ninth seat.  Scott also reappointed Jim Holton of Indian Shores and Bette Brown of Tavernier.

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