Central Florida homes on state-run Citizens Insurance shoot up by 159%
Published in Home and Consumer News
Jeremy Seghers didn’t have much of a choice about moving his home insurance to the state-run insurer of last resort, Citizens Property Insurance. His broker explained it was the only policy he could get after his previous company, Southern Fidelity Insurance, was liquidated by the state last year.
“They told me, ‘Citizens is it. It’s all we got,’” the Orlando theater director said, saying the change wound up adding a few dollars to his premium.
Once the option mostly for vulnerable properties on the coasts, Citizens is writing an exploding number of policies within inland Central Florida, and experts expect the trend to accelerate for the foreseeable future.
Over the past year, Citizens’ home policies have grown from 756,219 to 1.5 million, according to the company. The counties of Orange, Osceola, Seminole and Lake grew to nearly 75,000 policies, an increase of 159% from the previous year.
Seminole policies alone more than tripled from 4,420 to 13,881.
“[Central Florida] is going the same way as the coasts,” said Wayne Lucas, owner of John Galt Insurance brokerage. Though based in Bonita Springs, he says many of his policies are based in metro Orlando. “There has been a big uptick in Citizens.”
All told, the four counties represent a total of 5% of Citizens policies but about 10% of the growth over the past year.
With insurance companies going bankrupt, leaving the state or sometimes doubling premiums, customers are often finding the only affordable options to be Citizens, which was created by the Legislature in 2002 to provide affordable insurance to homes in high-risk areas private companies are reluctant to insure.
Patti Maguire, who has owned her home near Belle Isle since 2009, said her premiums with Swyfft Insurance skyrocketed from about $1,200 annually to $3,830, translating to an extra $200 per month. Even though she is selling the house, she’s looking for a new policy in the meantime.
“For an extra $200 … that’s a lot of money for me,” said Maguire, 75, who lives on a fixed income.
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