Citizens Insurance overhaul bill delayed — again


Herald/Times Tallahassee Bureau

A scheduled vote on a major insurance overhaul was again postponed Wednesday, indicating that fear of skyrocketing rates is weighing down the bill in the Florida Senate.

Bill sponsor Sen. David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs, said last week that he has enough support for the bill but wanted more time to make amendments and build more consensus.

The 100-page bill seeks to shrink the level of risk carried by Citizens Property Insurance Corp. by raising its rates and forcing its policyholders into the private market. The rate hikes are mostly focused on new policyholders at the state-run Citizens and those who have high-risk “wind-only” coverage.

Simmons pulled the bill from the agenda right before its first scheduled vote last week. The same thing happened Wednesday, when the bill was “temporarily postponed.” After cruising through the committee process, the bill has been delayed on the floor of the Senate three times in the last two weeks. It has been amended nearly 40 times.

Simmons said he would amend the bill in order to address concerns of lawmakers who are worried about the pocketbook impact on their constituents.

Citizens president Barry Gilway said earlier this month that the bill could lead to rate hikes of 60 percent or more in 11 counties across the state. Many of those large increases would be for the wind-only homeowners.

Homeowners, who have already seen insurance costs increase in recent years, generally oppose additional rate hikes. Lawmakers, including the Senate’s 14 Democrats and at least 10 Republicans in districts where Citizens is a top insurer, are also wary of rate hikes. To pass, the bill (SB 1770) must garner at least 21 votes in the 40-seat chamber.

Simmons said last week that he would remove a provision of the bill that forces Citizens to charge rates that are higher than the top 20 private companies in a particular area. That concession could soften some of the rate hikes included in the bill. Gov. Rick Scott has already weighed in by stating that the bill should protect current homeowners from rate hikes greater than 10 percent per year.

A less aggressive House version of the insurance reform bill is scheduled to reach the floor soon.

Read more Political Currents stories from the Miami Herald

Miami Herald

Join the

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category