Dec. 23--Those crazy folks at Citizens Property Insurance Corp. What would newspapers in Florida do without them?
Charles Elmore of The Post just reported the latest outrage. The state-run insurer of last resort wants to decrease its exposure in the worst way, and each new way gets worse. Citizens wants to offer a policy that would cover fewer perils and cover not what it would cost to replace a structure but the structure's current value.
Cut-rate coverage would be risky, but it could help some homeowners who remain underwater on their mortgage. Cut-rate coverage, though, should come at a cut-rate price, right? Not to Citizens.
Regulators say the policy should cost about 28 percent less than the standard coverage. Citizens responded that the policy couldn't be that cheap, or maybe they wouldn't offer it at all. A compromise may be coming, but the attitude still is bad.
Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, a former state senator from Palm Beach County, and Gov. Rick Scott want an outside inspector general to investigate Citizens' management. Newspapers have reported excessive spending, notably nearly $1 million in severance payments when Citizens supposedly didn't make severance payments.
Those problems, though, predate current President Barry Gilway, and don't get to the real issues. Citizens is going rogue. Defiance on the cut-rate policy is one example. Another was the plan to spend $350 million from Citizens' surplus on a dubious loan program to private companies, so they would take some of Citizens' policies. Citizens backed down, for now, only after pressure.
Gov. Scott and CFO Atwater can do more than demand outside review. They have power. They appoint members of the Citizens board. Gov. Scott's appointees are John Rollins and John Wortman. CFO Atwater's appointees are Vice Chairman Nancy Baily and Don Glisson. Carlos Lacasa, the chairman, and Chris Gardner serve at the pleasure of House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel. Carol Everhart and Tom Lynch, of Delray Beach, serve at the pleasure of Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville.
If those four political leaders want change from Citizens, they can demand it from the existing board members -- or replace them.
for The Post Editorial Board
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