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Newsmakers of the Year - Statewide
The state-run insurer brought some problems on itself.
Florida went another hurricane season without a significant storm — but not so for Citizens Property Insurance, the subsidized state insurer of last resort. Citizens brought on its own rough weather: Luxury spending by employees and eliminating its internal watchdog team as it investigated misconduct, a sex scandal and golden parachutes. Citizens says it actually was improving integrity controls through a reorganization but, amid a media storm, Gov. Rick Scott asked for an outside investigation into the goings-on. Meanwhile, Citizens worked to shrink risk — a process perennially controversial with policyholders who are shifted to private-sector companies. Citizens wants to go down to 1.2 million policies this year from 1.5 million in 2012.
Another year of collecting premiums without having to pay them out to cover storm damage makes Citizens more robust. It has $6 billion in surplus and, including government and private reinsurance, can pay $14.7 billion in claims without having to go into hock and sock ratepayers to pay it back. Still, that’s far short of its 1-in-100 year storm risk of $21.6 billion.