CENTRAL FLORIDA POLITICAL PULSE BLOG: Atwater wants to un-freeze Citizens Insurance rates

Jan 22, 2009


By Josh Hafenbrack, Tallahassee Bureau

Senate President Jeff Atwater said today legislators will let the rate freeze for homeowners with policies under state-run Citizens Property Insurance expire – meaning homeowners will see higher bills starting in 2010.

Atwater made the announcement at the Associated Press annual legislative planning meeting i the Capitol. The Palm Beach County Republican said he’d like legislators to set up a gradual process – perhaps 10 percent increases per year or less – to get Citizens rates back to economically sound levels. Legislators have frozen Citizens rates for two years, making the premiums that many homeowners pay artificially low.

“We will have to allow Citizens rates to begin to move closer to market-driven rates,” Atwater told a gathering of state reporters and editors. “I will do so carefully and thoughtfully, so there’s not an extraordinary knee-jerk that falls upon the citizens of Florida that are so dependent on Citizens insurance.”

Atwater pushed hard to keep Citizens’ rates frozen last year before he assumed the president’s job, despite grumblings from many conservatives that artificially lowered insurance rates for the mostly coastal Citizens’ customers were essentially being subsidized by other consumers statewide.