The House Friday passed the "Citizens Depopulation/Surplus Lines" bill, (CS/CS/HB 245) with a final vote of 66-48. It allows surplus lines insurers meeting certain financial requirements to negotiate with the Office of Insurance Regulation Citizens' takeouts for the first time.
In the Senate, the bill has one more committee stop in the Budget Committee before it hits the Senate Floor for a full vote.
As LobbyTools reported in The Current, the bill was strongly opposed by House Democrats and some Republicans, primarily from the Miami and Tampa Bay regions where Citizens has huge exposure. House Majority Leader Carlos Lopez-Cantera of Miami voted against the bill.
Rep. Jim Boyd, R-Bradenton, the bill sponsor, said any program which helps reduce the size of Citizens and put additional private capital into the Florida property insurance market should be utilized. Citizens has nearly 1.5 million policies and has been growing dramatically and after a major hurricane would be relying to a significant degree on statewide assessments on homeowners, commercial property, auto insurance, charitable organization property & casualty and many other P&C policyholders.
"Citizens and the Cat Fund are sucking chest wounds. This isn't going to fix it, but this is a start," Boyd said.
Rep. Evan Jenne, R-Fort Lauderdale. His objections included the fact that surplus lines rates are not regulated by OIR and the companies are not backed by the Florida Insurance Guaranty Association, which provides backup if the event of the insolvency of a regular private insurer.
* This information was released by the Florida Insurance Council (FIC). As a member of FIC, we have received permission to publish news information posted on their website.