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Citizens agrees to $21 million contract to create prop insurance clearinghouse

Citizens Property Insurance board on Thursday agreed to sign a $21.7 million five-year contract with a company that will create a clearinghouse for homeowners to compare property insurance policies offered in the private market. 

The Florida Legislature ordered the state-run insurance company to set up the clearinghouse, including an online component, by Jan. 1, 2014, to help homeowners kicked out of Citizens to do a better job of comparison shopping. 

The legislation required that Citizens policyholders are not eligible to renew their policies if a comparable private-market policy is within 15 percent of the Citizens renewal premium.

Six companies submitted bids to create the clearinghouse and, at the recommendation of Citizens staff, the board agreed during a conference call that the bid should go to a software company called Bolt. (We’re still trying to get more information on them.) They expect the site to be responsible for an estimated 8,000 transactions a day, said Citizens Chief Insurance Officer Yong Gilroy.

The software will not only give consumer the opportunity to compare policies and prices, but will also help them verify whether the private policies are within the 15 percent threshold.

Barry Gilway, Citizens CEO, predicted that the clearinghouse, along with the company’s aggressive push to “depopulate” by providing incentives to companies to take over Citizens policies, will result in a “record-breaking depopulation process. That means, he said, an estimated reduction of 550,000 policies into the private sector over the next two years.