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Flores files bill to cap rates on Citizens Property Insurance

Sen. Anitere Flores, R-Miami, has filed a bill to put a limit on the rate-hiking power of Citizens Insurance’s Board of Governors.

Flores expressed outrage last year when the board said it would consider removing the traditional 10-percent cap on rate increases for new policies. (State law requires Citizens to limit rate hikes to no more than 10-percent each year, but it’s not clear if that also applies to new policies).

Flores—who called the idea "immoral" and vowed to block attempts by the board to raise rates on new policies by more than 10-percent—filed a bill this month that would clarify that the cap on rate increases applies to both existing and new policies.

Flores' SB 96 is the first bill filed to make changes to Citizens Property Insurance for the 2013 session, which could be a pivotal one for property insurance.

South Florida lawmakers are hearing from their constituents after perennial rate increases have made property insurance a top pocketbook issue. Insurance industry power brokers are pressuring lawmakers to push for higher rates and allow the private market to compete with Citizens. At the direction of Gov. Rick Scott, Citizens’ board of governors has taken up an aggressive mission of shrinking the size of the state-run company--leading to rate hikes, unpopular reinspections and coverage cutbacks.

Flores’ bill seeks to rein in the board by taking off the table the idea of higher rates for new customers (the board shelved the idea last year, but has indicated that it still may push for higher rates for some new customers).