Florida insurance regulators offered some relief to the thousands of homeowners who were forced out of Citizens Property Insurance to Florida Peninsula Insurance and HomeWise Insurance.
Both companies charged much more than Citizens – but their rates have yet to be approved by the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation.
Regulators today ordered Citizens to offer those policyholders coverage so long as Florida Peninsula and HomeWise are charging “unapproved” rates.
“These people have been hit with a financial nightmare,” said Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty. “They were already being charged the highest insurance rates where they live only to see their premiums skyrocket even higher.”
Florida Peninsula and HomeWise, both “takeout” companies that took over wind-only policies for homeowners near the coast, have nearly 17,000 policies in Palm Beach and St. Lucie counties.
It’s unclear how much relief the state’s move will offer, however.
Consumers who already have written checks to Florida Peninsula and HomeWise likely would get back only a small part of their premiums if they were to cancel their policies now, said Bob Lotane, a spokesman for the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation.
Both companies have charged big increases. For instance, West Palm Beach couple Joseph Gushanas and Tracy Casper recently saw their Florida Peninsula premium nearly triple from $2,500 to $7,443.
Florida Peninsula has asked state regulators for a 101 percent rate hike. HomeWise wants a 75.8 percent. The increases have yet to be approved by state regulators.
SOURCE: Palm Beach Post