Hurricane Taxes Less Likely Thanks to Citizens Property Insurance Actions
During the past three years, Florida’s state-run insurer Citizens Property Insurance Corporation has seen a drop in the number of policies since its peak of more than 1.5 million. This means Florida policyholders are less likely to have to pay assessments, often called “Hurricane Taxes,” to pay for future damage caused by large storms.
This positive trend is due in part to the success of the “clearinghouse” that matches some applicants with private-sector companies, as well as an increasing number of companies using the takeout procedure, where insurers remove policies from Citizens in large groups.
The most recent numbers indicate a drop from more than 1.5 million to 727,122 policies currently placed in Citizens along with a reduction in total insured amount, what’s commonly known as exposure. The good news is that exposure is down from more than $500 billion in 2011, to the current total exposure of just more than $229 billion. With less exposure, Citizens is less likely to run out of funds to pay claims in the event of one or more large storms, helping Florida’s families stay protected.
And while a reduction in exposure is a positive thing for Florida taxpayers, the exposure of Citizens risk is not widely spread around the state and remains concentrated in two areas of our state.
The most recent report of county-level data shows that a substantial amount of the risk in Citizens remains in the Southeast and the Tampa Bay area. In just four Southeast counties – Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, and Monroe – Citizens had $166.2 billion of exposure. In the Tampa Bay area, Citizens had almost $50 billion in exposure in Pasco, Pinellas, Hernando and Hillsborough counties.
Of the total of $288 billion in Citizens exposure during September 2014, 76 percent of that was in Tampa Bay and Southeast Florida. This means that a substantial storm or multiple storms hitting these areas could mean the reintroduction of hurricane assessments, or “taxes”, on most every policyholder in Florida.
Although Florida has been hit by several tropical storms in the past few years, there have been no hurricane landfalls in Florida since 2005. But we cannot rely on luck alone. As Floridians, we all know and accept the reality that we live in a hurricane-prone state. Our beautiful peninsula is one of the most exposed places in the world to the natural forces and costs of tropical windstorms. Certainly there will be more storms, and Florida should be prepared with a stable and functioning insurance system.
Mark Wilson, President and CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce said, “While Florida’s storm-free years have benefited Floridians by eliminating hurricane tax assessments, it would be irresponsible to believe Florida will forever be spared from future costly storms. Now is the right time to prevent hurricane taxes from creeping back onto to insurance policies by looking to private market solutions to absorb Florida’s future hurricane risk.”
Possible solutions for the reduction of risk include mitigation – where Florida’s buildings are reinforced to make them less susceptible to storm damage. This empowers Florida families to protect their homes and makes getting insurance in the private market easier and less expensive.
Don’t miss the Florida Chamber’s Annual Insurance Summit January 26-28 in Orlando, themed Building on Success: Securing Florida’s Future with Sound Public Policy. This year’s unique agenda will give attendees an opportunity to engage with legislative leaders, insurance executives, political insiders, members of academia and business owners from around the state to address sustainable solutions to Florida’s insurance markets. Register today by clicking here.
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