In the books it will go down as the board of Citizens Property Insurance unanimously agreeing to seek a 3.2 percent average rate increase for policyholders statewide.
But, as Citizens chief risk officer John Rollins emphasized to board members for the state-run insurer in his rates presentation Wednesday morning, "nobody pays the average."
In fact for most of the state, homeowners will see rate decreases. In Hernando and Pasco counties, rates will be flat to down 5 percent on average; in the rest of the bay area, rates will go down between 5 and 10 percent on average.
Inland homeowners will see an average 1 percent drop in multi-peril rates while inland mobile home owners will see rates reduced by 7.4 percent.
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So what's driving the overall rate increase? South Florida.
South Florida has long accounted for the single highest share of homeowners in Citizens, which covers property owners who cannot find coverage on the open market. Citizens has managed to push many of its customers to small, private insurers and is now down to 592,000 policies statewide (compared
to 1.5 million during its peak a few years ago).
South Florida's current bane is a spike in water damage claims pushing up regional rates. But it also is still paying for having a large number of valuable properties clustered in a hurricane-prone area.
Despite nearly a decade without a hurricane strike and a steady stream of rate increases, the coastal area still has artificially low rates that do not reflect its risk of hurricane damage, Citizens maintains. As a result, policyholders clustered in Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade and Monroe counties face the bulk of higher rates.
Statewide, coastal homeowners will see average multi-peril increases of 8.6 percent while mobile home owners and condominium owners will see rates rise by up to 10.2 percent, Citizens said.
"Every year, Citizens' actuaries calculate rates based on the same methodology used by insurance companies all over the world, which compares potential risk to the ability to pay claims," board chairman Chris Gardner said in a statement. "We are focused on maintaining a transparent process that both the public and the Office of Insurance Regulation can appreciate."
The insurer's rate request now heads to Florida Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty for approval.