Citizens Property Insurance proposes a 14% rate hike

Reporter: Claire Galt
Published: Updated:

Homeowners up and down Southwest Florida are living in fear of being priced out of their homes, and now Citizens Property Insurance wants to jack up its rates.

Citizens customers, get ready to pay 14% more on top of what you already pay per month.

Lots of families here in Fort Myers and across our viewing area said they can’t afford it. The rate hike is not a done deal, and one woman told us she’s praying the proposal fails.

Brittney Smith, her husband and their four kids have lived in a trailer longer than they’ve lived in their home. Hurricane Ian ripped it to shreds.

Earlier this month, Smith told WINK News a battle with Citizens Insurance is the reason her family is still living in the driveway 19 months after the storm.

“I feel like a failure as a parent that my kids are having to live this way, and I know it’s not our fault, and we’re doing everything that we can, but this is their childhood that has been taken away from them. It’s not OK,” Smith said.

Wednesday morning, we called Smith to deliver more bad news. Citizens wants to hike up insurance rates by 14%

The board of governors signed off on the increase. Now, it’s up to the State Office of Insurance Regulation.

Smith told us she’s already pinching pennies, but Mark Friedlander from the Insurance Information Institute told us that Citizens must raise rates.

“It’s become the largest insurer in Florida. In fact, it has more than 18% market share today, the highest in the state, and over 1.2 million customers, way too much risk exposure,” Friedlander said.

Friedlander told us this is Citizens’ effort to push people to the private market, but those people don’t want to go.

“To give you a sense, the average private market policy is about 30 to 40%, higher in cost compared to Citizens,” he said.

Friedlander said there is no way to know when the Office of Insurance Regulation will make a decision.

It could be weeks or even months, but if the office gives this the green light, it will take effect on Jan. 1.

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