Residents’ Advocacy Group Formally Contests Windstorm Insurance Rate Increase as Excessive
On behalf of property owners across Monroe County, Florida, Fair Insurance Rates in Monroe (FIRM) formally petitioned Citizens Property Insurance Corporation (Citizens) to request relief from its proposed 8.9% windstorm insurance rate increase. In his letter dated October 7, 2016 (available at FIRMKeys.org) FIRM President Mel Montagne asserted FIRM’s contention that the proposed increase is excessive, discriminatory, and actuarially unsound. Extensive data in support of FIRM’s assertion is included.
As Florida’s property insurer of last resort, Citizens is obligated by statute to provide windstorm insurance at affordable rates. Yet Citizens latest annual proposal for Monroe County would result in the highest windstorm rates in the state, and a cumulative 220% rate hike since 2010. Since 2004, Monroe County has paid Citizens $686 million more in premiums than claims paid, including those resulting from Hurricane Wilma. FIRM contends that the four computer models considered by Citizens produce widely varying results (that would merit a decrease of 8% to an increase of 77%) that overstate projected losses, and do not accurately reflect the county’s unique geography and building codes that are the toughest in the state.
By law, Citizens has 30 days to respond to FIRM’s request. If denied by Citizens, FIRM’s request would next come before the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR), which has the option to hold an administrative hearing. If OIR fails to hold the administrative hearing, FIRM would then seek relief in the courts. OIR continues to refuse to discuss the rate increase with FIRM.
FIRM is a grassroots organization founded by Monroe residents in 2006 to combat escalating windstorm insurance premiums in the Florida Keys. FIRM succeeded in rolling back a 20% increase that had been implemented in August of 2006, and derailing a proposed 32% increase planned for 2007.