Will Citizens Customers Benefit From Insurance Changes?

It repeals a 56 percent rate increase that went into effect January 1, it postpones next year’s 21 percent increase, and it allows for a rollback of another 10 to 20 percent of last year’s rates by letting Citizens write other kinds of policies in high risk areas, but many lawmakers and Citizens customers don’t think the bill goes nearly far enough.

The good news for customers of the state-run Citizens Property Insurance Corporation is your rates should be a little cheaper than last year’s.

Senate President Ken Pruitt is thrilled.

"I strongly feel that we’ve passed a comprehensive product that meets every test and I’m very, very pleased where we’re at," he shared.

But how great a deal this legislation is for Citizens customers depends upon whom you ask. To someone whose bill has tripled over the past couple of years, a 20 percent discount isn’t much.

As he poured over the bill, House Minority Leader Dan Gelber said Citizens customers are going to be bitterly disappointed in the outcome of this special session.

"Anyone who thinks it’s time to uncork a champagne bottle ought to really get their head examined," said Gelber.

Several homeowners groups around the state are already considering more protests. The sticking point is the proposal to allow Citizens to sell more lines of insurance to be more profitable.

Gov. Charlie Crist wants to see Citizens compete all over the state, but the bill is more restrictive. Brad Ashwell represents the group FPIRG.

Ashwell said, "Right now we’re very concerned and we’re considering asking the governor to veto it."

A veto’s not out of the question, but that would put Citizens customers back to square one.