Citizens-Lite Bill Heads to Governor
After months of committee meetings and discussions, the Florida legislature reached compromises on changes to Citizens Property Insurance Corporation in SB 1770. The bill now heads to Governor Scott’s desk for review.
The months leading up to the 2013 legislative session included discussion of far-reaching proposals that would aggressively restore Citizens to its role as a residual property insurance market. However, by the time the House and Senate compromised with each other on key issues, they passed a bill that its primary Senate sponsor called “half a loaf” during the floor debate. Senate David Simmons, who spearheaded the Senate’s efforts, referred to the final version of his bill as a “Citizens-lite” proposal. Nonetheless, he pointed to a number of beneficial changes in the bill that will help the market, even if less dramatically than he might have hoped at the outset.
Significant provisions in the bill include:
Extending the exemption for medical malpractice insurance from Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund assessments until June 1, 2016.
Exempting activities of Citizens in placing business with authorized insurers from the exchange of business statute.
Prohibiting public adjusters from taking interests in salvage property without a signed affidavit.
Adding a structural engineer to the Florida Commission on Hurricane Loss Projection Methodology.
Gradually reducing the maximum personal residential dwelling limits that Citizens may write. The maximum limit will drop to $1 million as of January 1, 2014; $900,000 as of January 1, 2015; $800,000 as of January 1, 2016; and $700,000 as of January 1, 2017. The limit will remain at $1 million in any area for which the Office of Insurance Regulation determines there is not a reasonable degree of competition.
Precluding new construction seaward of the coastal construction control line from being eligible for a Citizens policy if permitted on or after July 1, 2014.
Adding a consumer representative to the Citizens board (to be appointed by the Governor).
Rendering personal residential and commercial residential risks ineligible for Citizens if they receive offers of coverage at rate levels equal to or less than the Citizens renewal premium.
Allowing assuming insurers to use Citizens forms for up to three years on assumed business without obtaining Office of Insurance Regulation approval.
Establishing an Office of the Inspector General within Citizens (with the Inspector General to be appointed by the Financial Services Commission).
Requiring Citizens to report annually on its non-catastrophe loss ratios.
Treating Citizens as a state agency for purposes of procurements and setting forth a hearing process for disputed procurements.
Establishing a clearinghouse for personal residential policies to facilitate private market offers before risks enter Citizens.