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1:55 pm
Mon January 27, 2014

Citizens Rolls Out Property-Insurance Clearinghouse

Credit freedigitalphotos.net

A program aimed at shrinking billions of dollars in liability from Florida’s state-run insurance company launches Monday, Jan. 27.

Citizens Property Insurance is widely known as Florida’s insurance company of last resort.  In actuality, it's become a major player in the insurance marketplace.  State lawmakers felt that Citizens’ $500 billion of risk was too much for Floridians to shoulder.  So they've been trying to shift policyholders from Citizens into the private market.

The Property Insurance Clearing House is part of a sweeping reform of Citizens passed by the Florida legislature last year.  The computerized system would allow insurance agents to match homeowners with private companies offering the same or better coverage than Citizens.

The roll-out was originally planned for Jan. 1, but was delayed to allow for more testing.  A privacy issue was also raised by one particular question in the online questionnaire: "Will you or will you not agree to have a credit report ordered by the participating company?"

"Frankly, we wanted to make absolutely sure that by asking that question, Citizens was not putting itself in a situation where we were creating privacy concerns,"  says Citizens' CEO Barry Gilway.

Gilway says Citizens waited for approval from Florida’s Office of Insurance Regulation before including the question.

In the last 18 months, Citizens has reduced its number of policies from about 1.5 million to less than 1 million.