Citizens Insurance rates expected to rise - Boston News, Weather, Sports | FOX 25 | MyFoxBoston

Citizens Insurance rates expected to rise

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Some state leaders have been in Tallahassee all week pushing to raise the rates of state-backed insurer Citizens Insurance. 

Citizens was created in 2002, because of catastrophic hurricanes and other disasters. It's a state-backed insurer meant to be the last resort for  homeowners who can't get any other private insurance.  But according to State Senator David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs, "Citizens has become dysfunctional, and schizophrenic."

Right now, Citizens holds 1.3 million policies, insuring 24 percent of all property in the state.
Everyone seems to be buying it, and few are turned away due to what critics call a lack of oversight.  Simmons likens it to a man-made disaster.

"It's not only selling insurance policies higher than anyone else," he says.  "It's selling policies less than for anybody else!"

In September of 2011, Citizens underwent a bunch of rate changes, but some people got big hikes, others got big cuts.  So now, when you look at a map, people in some parts of the state pay higher rates than people in other parts of the state.  In fact, in some southern areas like Broward County, Simmons says many homeowners tend to pay a lot less.

Sen. Simmons says that's because some politicians have pushed for lower rates to gain political favor with their voting constituents. 

"I take responsibility for fixing a problem that was created based upon the fact it was created in the time period of 2007, when insurance premiums were increasing dramatically and the legislature was looking for a solution.  We came up with what was supposed to be an interim solution.  But what happened, however, is people got used to the good thing."

Simmons says that good thing is insurance that costs much less than what is needed in order to actually cover that next big disaster.  He says next week, lawmakers hope to draft a bill to raise rates and stiffen oversight, and then the following week public hearings will be held.



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