Florida Leaders Blast Citizens Property Insurance

Citizens Property Insurance Corporation covers more than a million Florida homeowners who can’t get insurance elsewhere.

The agency recently spent about $22,000 in legal fees fighting state regulators to raise rates even higher, and Florida’s Attorney General went ballistic.

Charlie Crist, Florida Attorney General, said, "What they’re doing, in essence, is having the taxpayers sue themselves, in essence, in order to have higher rates. It’s crazy. It makes no sense. It defies common sense and it’s gotta stop."

So Charlie Crist pushed through a motion before the governor and cabinet barring citizens from suing its way to rate hikes. The cabinet also nuked Citizens new operational plan because it didn’t include any mention of customer service.

Steve Parton with the state Office of Insurance Regulation says Citizens must now hold three public hearings and include ratepayers' comments in the plan.

Steve Parton said, "You’re there to serve the public in their greatest time of need, and in fact, if service is not a priority with citizens, then it needs to be made a priority."

But Charlie Crist is also in the middle of a heated battle for the governor’s office, so we asked the question, is this really about serving the people, or political purposes? The cabinet’s action was featured on Crist’s campaign website almost immediately after the vote, but Gov. Jeb Bush says politics or not, a good idea is a good idea.

"The point is, there needs to be greater transparency and accountability for Citizens and that’s what I think he’s trying to do, but you can ask him," said Gov. Bush.

And it probably won’t hurt politically, either.