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Citizens Grows to 1.3 Million Policies

January 12th, 2011 by Anna Laura Rehwinkel

Floridas state run Citizens Property Insurance is flooded with new customers adding an increased risk to all Floridians. The state run insurer now has 1.3 million customers, up 200-thousand customers from a year ago. As Whitney Ray tells us, lawmakers are looking for ways to convince more insurance companies to take Citizens policies.

State Farm is dropping customers they feel are too risky. When the company is finished 125-thousand Floridians will be forced to find new coverage. A spokesman for the company refused to talk about the policy purge on camera.

As private insurers drop the riskiest policies, a crisis is being created in Florida. Most of those homeowners are ending up in state run Citizens Property Insurance. There are now 1.3 million Citizens customers, up 200-thousand from a year ago. Sinkholes in central Florida are partially to blame. Fraud and artificially low rates are the other culprits.

House Insurance Committee Chairman Bryan Nelson says state lawmakers can fix two of those problems.

We really dont want premiums to go up, but we need to have enough money in reserves to pay the claims when the next storm hits, said Nelson.

Industry experts say the state could cut down on fraud by paying claims in phases.

Get Florida law the way it is in every other state. You get some money up front when you sign the contract to fix your house and when you fix your house you get the rest of it, said Sam Miller with Florida Insurance Council.

If things arent changed and a hurricane wipes out thousands of Citizens properties, all Floridians will be forced to pay claims through increased assessments on their home and auto insurance.

Insurance reform legislation was vetoed by Former Governor Charlie Crist the last two years in a row. Crist didnt like a prevision in the bill allowing insurers to raise rates up to 10 percent a year without state approval.

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