Preview of Citizens sinkhole insurance rate hike hearing at Tampa Convention Center
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09/13/11 Josh Holton
WMNF Drive-Time News Tuesday | Listen to this entire show:

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Many homeowners in the Tampa Bay region could face steep rate hikes on sinkhole insurance premiums. This afternoon there is a hearing at the Tampa Convention Center on proposed rate increases by state’s government-backed insurance program. State legislators held a press conference to voice opposition to the hikes this morning.

Citizen’s Property insurance has reacted to a higher number of sinkhole claims by proposing to raise premiums on their sinkhole insurance customers by 400 to 2000% in Hillsborough, Hernando, and Pasco Counties. But yesterday Citizen’s Property Insurance said they would cap their first phased increase by 50%. Democratic State Representative Daryl Rouson said they are reacting to protests from both politicians and homeowners.

John Thompson is a homeowner in Hernando County, where the premiums could face some of the steepest hikes. He spoke out against Senate Bill 408 earlier this year. While it did away with what many consider to be useless regulations, it also took a cap of annual rate increases; which Thompson foresaw would become a problem.

State Senator Mike Fasano blames the private insurance industry’s push for the bill to pass in the state Senate.

Fasano called Citizens’ dishonest, saying that they do not actually intend to slowly phase in rate hikes, and said they have misled the public.

Christine Ashburn with Citizen’s Property Insurance did not respond to an interview request by deadline. The hearing on proposed rate increases with the Office of Insurance Regulation would normally take place in the state capitol, but public outrage on the issue has led to a change to a venue closer to where homeowners are most impacted by the proposal.

Previous WMNF coverage of sinkhole issues.

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