Citizens Property Insurance rates to rise $150-$300 in Hernando; Senator Mike Fasano plans legislation

Oct 27, 2011

The following article was published in Hernando Today on October 27, 2011: 

Citizens rates to rise $150 to $300 in Hernando

By Michael Bates

The financial blow for Hernando County residents who have Citizens Insurance sinkhole coverage will not be as bad as originally thought.

Depending on whether customers live along the coast or inland, the coverage will increase about $150 to $300 annually.

While any hike is unwelcome, that beats Citizens’ original proposal, said Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey.

The Office of Insurance Regulation in September denied a major portion of Citizens’ original rate increase, which would have seen Hernando County’s rate go up 323 percent, from $1,356 to $5,734, for coastal residents. The remainder of the county would have seen an average 471 percent increase, from $1,084 to $6,192.

Instead, the OIR capped the company’s rate hike at 32.8 percent, with the new costs to go into effect Jan. 1.

There had been some misinformation since the OIR’s action, and Fasano wanted to clear up any confusion.

“It’s an increase, but not the increase that Citizens’ sought that would have forced a lot of people without sinkhole coverage … out of their home if the lender required sinkhole coverage,” Fasano said.

In Hernando and Pasco counties, sinkhole coverage is optional for Citizens’ policyholders. Many are covered through their policy’s catastrophic ground cover collapse coverage.

However, many mortgage lenders require homeowners to carry sinkhole coverage.

Fasano said Thursday he is planning to file additional legislation in the upcoming session that would give the consumer more protections.

For example, Fasano wants to reinstate the 10 percent annual cap on Citizens Insurance premiums.

Citizens officials said the hike was needed because the money raised from residents’ premiums did not make up for increased claims costs.

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