Florida House Nixes Shifting Citizens Policies to Surplus Lines

The Florida House has rejected a proposal that could shift homeowners away from the state-backed Citizens Property Insurance and into private surplus lines insurers.

The Florida Senate last week narrowly voted for a property insurance bill that would allow homeowners seeking coverage from Citizens to be shifted to a private surplus line insurance company. Surplus line companies are not subjected to the same regulations as companies based in the state.

But the House stripped out that provision from the bill (SB 1672).

Rep. John Wood, R-Winter Haven, said that the issue was dead for this year’s session.

Lawmakers have taken several steps over the last few years to try to steer people away from the state-created Citizens. Citizens was set up initially to be an insurer of last resort but it grew as Florida was hit by hurricanes and private insurers sought to limit their exposure in the Sunshine State.

Last year, legislators approved creating a clearinghouse that requires insurance agents to look at offers from private insurers before allowing someone to purchase a Citizens policy. A customer is ineligible for Citizens if one of the insurers charges premiums that are within 15 percent of Citizens rates.

The Senate bill as originally passed would have added surplus line insurers to those that could be offered through the clearinghouse starting in January.

Sen. David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs, said last week it would give homeowners another choice for coverage. He said homeowners would be told ahead of time that the surplus line insurers are not regulated the same way as other insurers. He also noted some Floridians already insure their homes with these type of insurers.

But many legislators, especially from those areas with heavy concentrations of Citizens policies, opposed the idea.

View this article online: http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/southeast/2014/04/30/327963.htm

Florida Senate Passes Measure to Encourage Private Flood Insurance

The Florida Senate is backing a bill to entice private insurance companies to sell flood policies in the state that’s the most vulnerable to storm surge.

The Senate this week unanimously passed the bill (SB 542) sponsored by Sen. Jeff Brandes, a Republican from St. Petersburg. It heads to the Florida House where a similar bill is moving.

The legislation is designed to make it easier for private companies to sell flood insurance.

Florida is home to 37 percent of the federal policies and state officials say congressional attempts to overhaul the troubled program burdened many Floridians with skyrocketing premiums. Congress just recently rolled back some of the increases it permitted in 2012.

It’s not clear, though, that many private insurers will want to assume the risks of flooding.

View this article online: http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/southeast/2014/03/28/324688.htm