Bill to Increase Citizens Rates Postponed

Twenty four hours before a crucial vote on Citizens Property Insurance consumers spoke out.

“I am in Citizens, not because I chose to be in Citizens but because I was forced into Citizens,” said Customer John Thompson.

Because of sinkholes, no private company will insure John Thompson’s home. Monday he came to Tallahassee to explain his dilemma to lawmakers.

“Do I have the solutions no, but time and time again I feel that I’m failed because our legislators don’t listen to us. They listen to the insurance lobbyists,” said Thomspon.

Thompson’s grip may have been heard. The bill was set for passage Tuesday morning but the vote was postponed.

“At the request of Senator Simmons, committee substitute for Senate Bill 1770 is temporarily postponed,” said Don Gaetz.

The delay may mean the votes to pass the bill weren’t there. In the meantime insurance and business lobbyists continue to push for its passage.

The bill would prohibit Citizens from covering properties worth more than a million dollars, then reduce the eligible values by 100,000 dollars each year for the next five years.

David Hart with the Florida Chamber of Commerce says if Citizens doesn’t shrink soon everyone will be paying more.

“We are actually all still paying back Citizens for the losses in ‘03 and ’04,” said Hart.

Citizens insures more than 400 billion dollars in risk. When the state run company can’t pay, all Florida property owners see their insurance bills increase.

After the bill was temporarily passed Shawn Shaw with the Policyholders of Florida released this statement: "The delay of this bill to raise rates and stall our housing recovery shows that policyholders and consumer advocates are making a difference. We will continue to pound lawmakers with the facts this bill would hurt our housing recovery, harm policyholders, and make rate making even more political."