|By James L. Rosica, Tampa Tribune, Fla.|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
Those days are long gone.
Jenkins and her family live in a two-story
"We've never had a claim," Jenkins says. "We've done the tie-downs for the roof, we got the hurricane shingles. It's an insurance company's dream.
"We've done all the right things," she adds.
As Jenkins and thousands of homeowners have learned, doing the right thing hasn't helped in the face of a looming insurance apocalypse in
Now, Citizens homeowners policyholders in the
The increases have to be approved by the
Citizens was formed in 2002 to insure "homes, businesses and condominiums whose owners otherwise might not be able to find coverage in the private market," according to its website.
"From a company standpoint, it will help them get into a better fiscal position," says
Insurance problems have vexed the state since long before Citizens was created.
Westcott cited "long and frustrating processes that impede families' ability to recover."
Citizens covers many homes and other properties that other insurers don't -- or won't.
But the company, a not-for-profit government corporation, says it can't charge as much as it needs to because of a 10 percent cap on rate increases. That's leaving it in the hole to pay for future claims.
"Citizens is committed to providing a top-quality service to our policyholders and strives to be transparent and open about our rate-setting process," spokeswoman
"Where Citizens has decreased or increased coverage, we have adjusted our rates and premiums accordingly."
The Citizens board last month approved a request to raise rates by an average of 7 percent statewide next year, costing its more than 1 million policyholders a total of an extra
Prices are going up for traditional homeowners insurance and sinkhole insurance. The cap on homeowner rates doesn't apply to sinkhole coverage, however.
Sinkhole premiums are being raised in phases in
Legislators, concerned that Citizens wouldn't have enough money to pay out claims after a big storm, this year passed a law creating a clearinghouse to pass homeowners off to more private insurers.
Over the next several years, the law also will gradually limit the value of homes that Citizens can insure, bringing it down from
The Citizens board also approved a deal potentially worth more than