FL - U.S. Senator fears Floridians may be forced to bail out Citizens Property Insurance

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — He’s the man at the center of a probe into Citizens, Florida’s insurer of last resort.U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse says Floridians may have to shell out thousands to bail out the state-backed company.

What’ll it take for that to happen? 8 On Your Side Investigator Mahsa Saeidi is digging into the numbers

As many of our viewers know, if Citizens Property Insurance Company cannot pay out claims, they can turn to policyholders.

First, Citizens customers would have to shell out cash. If that’s not enough, we’d all have to pay.

U.S. Senate panel launches inquiry into Citizens Property Insurance

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse is Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee.

“The numbers can run into the thousands, even the tens of thousands of dollars per policy,” said Sen. Whitehouse.

Sen. Whitehouse, a Democrat from Rhode Island, says Citizens has small reserves and a large number of policies. That’s a risky combo that potentially puts taxpayers on the hook for bailing out the state-backed company.

Sen. Whitehouse says it would take just one big storm hitting Tampa or Miami.

Under Florida law, if Citizens runs out of money, they’re allowed to levy an assessment – or a special surcharge – on all Floridians.

“If the assessment is so big that it’s uncollectable then that pushes this problem beyond Florida,” said Sen. Whitehouse.

“The scale that they talked about when Freddie Mac made the warning about coastal property value crash was that it would be as bad as the 2008 mortgage meltdown.”

On Thursday, Sen. Whitehouse sent a letter to Gov. Ron DeSantis, Insurance Commissioner Michael Yaworksky and Citizens CEO Tim Cerio. State officials have three weeks to hand over documents about the company’s assets, plans, and policies.

“It’s really basic data about solvency, about what extreme risks they anticipate,” said Sen. Whitehouse.

We’re told Florida is cooperating and it’s not the only state facing scrutiny.

“We’re looking at a great number of insurance companies,” said Sen. Whitehouse,” …the fossil fuel industry has a lot of blame for the mischief in politics that it has created that have put Florida into this position and other states as well.”

“Unless we take serious action on climate change, problems like these are going to continue… to hit our economy.”

A Citizens spokesman tells 8 On Your Side the company can pay out claims.

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