Bills Aim for Slow Flow of State-Backed Citizens Insurance Policies

Inspecting the damage to a house in Mexico Beach after Hurricane Michael in 2018.

TALLAHASSEE — Painting a bleak picture of Florida’s property insurance system, senators backed proposals Wednesday aimed at boosting the private market while stemming a flood of policies for the state-backed Citizens Property Insurance Corp.

“The word could be ‘catastrophe’ is where we are right now,” said Senate Banking and Insurance Chairman Jim Boyd, a Bradenton Republican who is sponsoring a bill (SB 1728) to try to address the problems.

State Senator Jim Boyd, R-Bradenton

The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Environment, and General Government approved Boyd’s bill and another measure (SB 186), sponsored by Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, that focuses on making changes to insurance owned by citizens.

Lawmakers are grappling with a market in which financially strapped private insurers are canceling policies, declining to underwrite new coverage and seeking massive rate increases. Part of the fallout has been thousands of homeowners a week seeking coverage from Citizens, which had about 777,000 policies as of Jan. 1, an increase of more than 222,000 policies from a year earlier.