Florida Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier has denied a leading consumer advocate group’s request to delay the 8.9% rate increase for 2017 windstorm property insurance for Monroe County proposed by Citizens Property Insurance Corporation (Citizens). Fair Insurance Rates in Monroe (FIRM) requested the delay during a public hearing last month because of a wide disparity in the results of the four hurricane loss projection models approved by the Florida Commission on Hurricane Loss Projection Methodology (the Florida Commission).
The four models vary from one indicating a 77% increase to another indicating an 8% decrease in rates. At the hearing in Tallahassee on August 18th, Citizens Chief Actuary John Rollins acknowledged that this “significant divergence of scientific opinion” warrants further study. FIRM’s testimony sought for Citizens and OIR to obtain further guidance on the model results from the Florida Commission and highlighted the legislative mandate requiring Citizens to provide affordable insurance to its policyholders.
“I cannot find the words to express my disappointment at what I perceive to be total disregard for the residents, businesses, and governments of Monroe County, as well as for our organization,” said FIRM President Mel Montagne. “We likely have no choice but to seek redress through the courts.” To pursue this strategy, FIRM’s board has agreed to devote its regularly scheduled board meeting on Thursday, September 22 to an open forum for residents and leaders of Monroe County to unite in response to the Commissioner’s denial. Details of the public meeting will be forthcoming.
FIRM was founded in 2006 to combat escalating windstorm insurance premiums in the Florida Keys. Keys residents faced dramatic increases in windstorm coverage through Citizens, despite few claims having been filed. Analysis of premiums collected versus claims paid demonstrated the increases were not justified. 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. Since then, FIRM was successful in slowing the rate of increase on wind insurance costs and in helping to repeal the most onerous aspects of 2012’s federal flood insurance reform. Year after year, FIRM works to hold back more increases and changes in coverage that adversely affect Keys residents. Those wishing to donate to FIRM can do so at http://firmkeys.org.