Citizens Customers Sent To Clearinghouse

By Donna Gehrke-White, Sun Sentinel
McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

Sept. 03--Existing customers of Citizens Property Insurance Corp. now will be sent through the insurance clearinghouse that new customers have faced for months.

Citizens began to send notices Monday telling customers with multiperil policies that their policies will be offered to private companies when they come up for renewal in November.

Property owners won't have to accept the offers from other insurers unless a premium is the same or cheaper than Citizens', spokesman Michael Peltier said. "The switch [for current customers] won't come until after Nov. 1, but we will start sending notices now," Peltier said.

The change is part of Citizens' efforts to reduce its number of policies to lessen the risk for the state. The public insurer has gone from a high of 1.4 million policies in April 2012 to 933,807 as of the end of July.

New customers have been passed through the clearinghouse since January. In their case, they must use a private insurer unless premiums are at least 15 percent higher than Citizens'.

Offers for multiperil coverage for current customers will come from six private companies in the clearinghouse. Citizens said it expects to add more insurers.

"I think it is a good thing that people will have more choices," said Lynne McChristian, the Tampa-based spokesman for the nonprofit Insurance Information Institute. Current Citizens customers should carefully consider the offers they get through the clearinghouse. "They should look at the options," she said. "They should be actively engaged in the process."

More private insurers have come into the state, increasing competition and lowering premiums for some property owners, McChristian said.

dgehrke@tribune.com or Twitter @donnagehrke

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(c)2014 the Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)

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