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Insurer of last resort extends moratorium on cancellations

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Florida's insurer of last resort says it won't cancel any policies for the rest of the year because of the challenges facing policyholders in the middle of a pandemic.

Citizens Property Insurance Corporation said it was extending a moratorium on policy cancellations until the end of the year.

The moratorium had been set to expire in mid-August. It was implemented in March, following an uptick in premiums no being paid, as coronavirus concerns started closing down businesses and putting property owners out of work.

“Our top priority has been and will continue to be our policyholders,” Barry Gilway, Citizens Property’s CEO, said in a news release. “This extension will provide our customers with further assurances that we have their backs during hurricane season and beyond."

Major national players like State Farm, Allstate and Liberty Mutual write few if any homeowners policies in Florida because of the high risk of hurricane losses, leaving the market to smaller companies and the state-created insurer of last resort, Citizens Property.

On Friday, Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis had urged Citizens Property to wait until the end of hurricane season, which runs through the end of November, before canceling anyone.

“My biggest concern is that if you cancel somebody now, then they’re in the middle of hurricane season, and there is a named storm out in the Gulf or Atlantic, they’re not going to be able to get rewritten, so this was just bad timing for the citizens of the state of Florida,” said Patronis.

It appears Citizens Property heard him loud and clear.

Three percent of policyholders with Citizens Property are behind in their premiums. 

Unlike most homeowners who pay their premium and their taxes, along with their mortgage, two out of three Citizens Property customers pay the company directly.

Payments are being delayed, not forgiven.

“There are solutions out there for you to help them help you in order to pay your bill,” Patronis said.

While late payments spiked in March and April, the number who are late is actually smaller than during pre-pandemic times.

Patronis said Citizens Property is strong financially.

The company was unable to tell Capitol News Service whether any late premiums would be deducted from any claim made by someone in arrears.