Fla. commissioner OKs Citizens Property rate hikes

AP News
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Posted: Nov 20, 2009 6:09 PM

More than 15,000 mobile home owners insured by state-backed Citizens Property insurance Corp. will see an 11 percent increase on their insurance policies in 2010.

Florida Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty signed an order Thursday establishing rates for Citizens' 330,000 high-risk accounts. The approved rates are close to those requested by Citizens at a rate hearing earlier this month.

"It was responsible and prudent," said Gov. Charlie Crist, who has usually fought against rate increase requests by major private insurers, most notably State Farm. "We want to make sure that any carrier in Florida maintains their viability in the event we would have a hurricane so that those policies could be honored."

As of Oct. 31, Citizens had nearly 1.1 million Floridians insured, including more than 186,000 mobile home owners, spokesman John Kuczwanski said Friday.

However the 11 percent rate will effect 15,383 mobile home owners rated as high risk because of their coastal location, Office of Insurance Regulation spokesman Tom Zutell said.

Condo associations will see their rates increased 9.4 percent, nonresidential commercial property rates go up 9.3 percent and 256,000 homeowners will see a 5.4 percent increase.

Regulators said the intent of the new rates is to get Citizens' rates closer to a financially sound level sought by the Legislature, which capped Citizens' annual rate increases at 10 percent.

"We want them to be able to meet their obligations and to pay claims," Deputy Insurance Commissioner Belinda Miller said Friday. "But what we don't want them to do is increase rates dramatically all in one year. We want them to get there over time."

The rates on mobile homes in high-risk areas were increased above what the legislation provided because of a law that allows companies to pass on the cost of building up cash reserves.