John Rollins: Dinner Tabs Don’t Drive Citizens Property Insurance Rates

Feb 25, 2013

The following article was published in The Tampa Bay Times on February 25, 2013:

Thursdays letters:  Dinner tabs don’t drive Citizens rates

By John Rollins

My favorite quote from a Citizens board meeting came when former chair Bruce Douglas addressed a town hall. A policyholder asked if he was a “dollar a year man,” referencing compensation for board service. Bruce, serving his third year, didn’t miss a beat, replying: “Then someone owes me three bucks.”

Board members like me typically take two days away from our families and businesses every month or two for a slate of scheduled meetings. The work is intense, often deep into the evening and through lunch the next day. We do it, unpaid, because we are called to serve by our state leaders. Our reward is a daily torrent of criticism in the Florida press, attempting to tie our dinner tabs to rate hikes.

Citizens is raising rates for a very simple reason that has nothing to do with a menu. It’s required by law. The law is crystal clear — the rates must be actuarially sound except for the 10 percent annual cap on changes. If we want lower rates, we have to lower the claims costs, which have exploded in the past few years. That’s an uphill battle, with trial lawyer billboards at seemingly every mile marker along U.S. 19 and I-75.

We thank the press for spurring a needed debate on efficiencies at Citizens and will aggressively continue to cut administrative costs. Just don’t delude yourselves about why our customers are paying more for insurance.

John Rollins, board member, Citizens Property Insurance Corp., High Springs

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