A separate 2012 audit found that Citizens had inadvertently given away $2.5 million to another insurance company. The money has since been recouped.
The OIR report also found that Citizens spends nearly $8 million each year to lease office space for its 1,200 employees, including $10,894 per month for an “unoccupied” office in Tallahassee. Ashburn said the company is trying to either sublease the space or negotiate an early buyout to “reduce the overall expense.”
Government watchdogs say it’s not a coincidence that Citizens’ spending problems come as the company is sitting on a massive investment portfolio of $15 billion, including a record $6.2 billion in cash.
The OIR findings weren’t all bad: The report found that Citizens did an adequate job of processing claims, monitoring its investment portfolio and managing depopulation (reducing number of policyholders) efforts.
Still, the findings are likely to be used as evidence by lawmakers who say Citizens needs to get control of its operations before looking for new legislation to raise rates further on homeowners. A committee hearing on Citizens will take place in the Florida Senate on Wednesday.
“Wasting $8 million a year in leased office space, failing to award contracts to the lowest bidders, and running up the corporate credit card, proves that Citizens must clean house first before passing the bill on to Floridians,” said Artiles.
Toluse Olorunnipa can be reached at tolorunnipa@MiamiHerald.com or on Twitter at @ToluseO.
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