Citizens Property Insurance Corp. board of governors voted Friday to submit an 8.8 percent average statewide rate increase for all policies to state regulators for approval, but it’s a rate request submitted somewhat under protest.
Tropical Storm Isaac was expected to strengthen into a hurricane Monday as it took aim at the northern Gulf Coast, but its outer bands have already strafed South Florida, spurring insurance claims for state-run Citizens Property Insurance Corp.
As of Monday, Citizens had received 767 claims — 717 of them from Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties. Forecasters have moved Isaac’s expected landfall as far west as Louisiana, but the massive storm could still lash Florida’s western Panhandle counties, boosting the ultimate impact of the storm on the state.
On Sunday, Citizens said it was anticipating many more claims to be filed in the aftermath of Isaac — as many as 50,000 — but that estimate was drastically lowered as Isaac tracked west Monday. Citizens now estimates 5,000 to 6,000 claims will result from damage caused by Isaac.
“Those numbers were much reduced because it just kept moving further and further west all day,” said Citizens spokeswoman Christine Ashburn.
Officials said they are prepared for an influx of claims, though, dispatching hundreds of independent agents to affected areas. “We are prepared to handle Tropical Storm Isaac. If damages result from this storm, we will quickly move into the affected areas to aid policyholders as they begin the recovery process,” Citizens board chairman Carlos Lacasa said in a prepared statement.
Isaac is the third storm to impact Florida this year. Tropical Storm Beryl, a weak storm that brushed through North Florida in May, produced 276 claims totaling $1.15 million. Tropical Storm Debby soaked much of the state in June and spawned tornadoes that killed at seven people. Citizens customers have filed 4,759 claims for damage caused by Debby, totaling $13.75 million so far.