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Citizens insurance seeks maximum 14% rate hike on more than a million Florida policies

Al Diaz/adiaz@miamiherald.com

More than 1 million customers with Citizens Property Insurance, the state’s insurer of last resort, could see their rates go up by hundreds of dollars when they renew next year.

The corporation’s board of governors on Wednesday approved a proposed 14% rate increase overall for its policies.

The request is still subject to approval by Florida regulators.

Citizens was created by the Legislature for homeowners and businesses unable to find insurance on the private market. Its rate increases are capped under state law, although lawmakers in recent years raised those caps.

For 2025, the cap is 14% for a primary home and 50% for secondary homes, defined as those that are occupied nine months or less each year.

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Most of the corporation’s nearly 1.2 million policies are typical homeowners policies, which cover fire, theft and windstorms. Although Citizens is asking for a 14% increase on those policies, the effect would be about a 13.5% increase overall.

Miami-Dade homeowners with those policies would see their premiums increase from an average of $5,113 to an average of $5,804.

In Broward County, homeowners with those policies would see their premiums go from an average of $5,385 to $6,112.

In Tampa Bay, the increases wouldn’t quite be as drastic because the premiums are lower.

In Hillsborough County, the average $2,667 premium would go up to an average of $3,028. In Pinellas County, it would go from $2,854 to $3,234.

Homeowners with only wind coverage through Citizens would see an average 14.6% increase. Those with Citizens’ condominium policies would see an average 14.2% increase.

Citizens’ board is made up of lawyers and business executives appointed by Gov. Ron DeSantis, Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis and the Republican leaders of the Legislature.

During Wednesday’s meeting, Citizens board member Scott Thomas, a Jacksonville lawyer appointed by Patronis, said he knew the headlines from Wednesday’s meeting would be about the rate hikes.

But the “real story,” he said, was about how effective recent legislative reforms have been at reducing the number of lawsuits filed against Citizens. The changes included reducing the amount of time a homeowner has to file a lawsuit from three years to one.

The reforms haven’t yet trickled down to benefit homeowners through reduced insurance rates.

Citizens’ rates are still below what’s offered by private insurers. But its policyholders are facing another significant cost increase in coming years.

The Legislature in 2022 required all Citizens policyholders to get flood insurance by March 1, 2027. Under the sliding scale they adopted, all policyholders with homes valued at more than $500,000 would have to get flood insurance by March 1 next year.