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Citizen’s Rate Hike Could Affect Your Pocketbook

April 28th, 2009 by Mike Vasilinda

A battle is underway in Tallahassee over how much Citizens, the state run insurer of last resort, should be allowed to raise rates. As Mike Vasilinda tells us, the bigger the break Citizens customers get, the higher the chance all of us will pay more for insurance.

Lawmakers are under some pressure to reach agreement. A freeze on Citizens rates expires in January and without a cap, premiums could rise as much as 40%, although state regulators have the final say.

Citizens customers could soon be paying 5, 10 or 20 percent more. How much will depend on lawmakers.

The Senate wants just 5 percent.

The most that anyone can afford in this state is probably no increase at all, but at least lets put a cap at 5 percent so people can somehow work that into their budget,” Sen. Mike Fasano (R-Pasco County) said.

The House is pushing a 10 to 20 percent hike.

To go at 5 percent, I think is irresponsible and its almost insignificant, Rep. Alan Hayes (R-Ocala).

Governor Charlie Crist says less is better.

Obviously, when youre in a tough economy if theres less of an increase, thats better for the people, Crist said.

Whats going on here is a game of poker between the Senate and the House. Citizens customers will end up paying more, but the question is will everyone else?

f this beach house still looks like this after hurricane season, then non Citizens customers wont see an assessment. But if it looks like this, Citizens likely wont have enough cash for claims and every policy holder in the state will be paying more. Business interests say the more Citizens has from higher premiums, the less risk to everyone else.

We need to start having a real, honest conversation with the state of Florida about what these rates really mean,” Jose Gonzalez with Associated Industries of Florida said.

Most policy holders in Florida are already paying an extra 10 percent. That covers the losses from the 2004 and 2005 storms.

Lawmakers are under some pressure to reach agreement. A freeze on Citizens rates expires in January and without a cap, premiums could rise as much as 40%, although state regulators have the final say.

Posted in Charlie Crist, Hurricane Season, Insurance, Legislature, State News | No Comments »

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