TAMPA - Citizens policy holders check your mail--the state run insurance company is sending some 400,000 customers an offer to opt out of Citizens and switch to one of 10 private companies.
One in three customers will receive this option and it's the consumers choice on what to do.
But consumer advocates warn read it carefully because if you don't respond, Citizens will assume you choose the new carrier, and those companies will take over coverage on November 5.
Neil Elder got a similar letter several years ago and it still brings bad memories.
"Anyone who gets that letter in the mail should say no, say no I don't want to," said Elder.
Neil chose to go with one of the take-out companies. He said it was a disaster after Debbie hit the Bay Area and his damage claim was denied.
"They are giving you a newcomer and that newcomer has no track record," said Elder.
That is precisely the gamble, Bill Newton with the Florida Consumer Action Network said policy holders are taking with this proposal. Newton's agency is a non-profit group that has protected consumers for the past 25 years.
"It is a huge gamble. Folks just don't know what's going to happen, but one thing will happen for sure-- your rates will go up," said Newton.
A Citizens spokesperson said this move pushed by Gov. Rick Scott and passed by lawmakers is actually what's best for Floridians.
If a massive storm hits and Citizens falls short of cash to pay out policies--all taxpayers will foot the bill.
The take out is a continuation for Citizens to become the insurer of last resort.
"These 10 companies have been vetted by the Office of Insurance Regulation and in many cases may provide more comprehensive coverage" said spokesperson Mike Peltier.
The Office of Insurance Regulation backs this up.
"These companies have all met or exceeded Florida's rigorous statutory requirements to attain a license from the Office to sell property insurance in the state."
Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty went on and said.
"The Order allocates the rate increases sought by Citizens in such a way as to recognize the continued rate need for wind coverage while acknowledging the better loss experience for other perils such as fire and theft."
Citizens expects about 30 percent to accept the take out.
Elder said there's no harm in eventually going to another company--but it doesn't have to be in the next two months.
He suggests you do your research, and when you find one that fits your needs, then make the switch.
"When the renewal comes up is a good time to then look at an alternative to Citizens like we did." said Elder.
And Newtons said that's sound advice.
"It is good to have more competition in the market place just be well informed," said Newton.
Florida's Office of Insurance Regulation knows consumers may have many questions and they want to make sure Floridians make an informed choice.
They have listed information on all the take out companies so you can make a comparison.
You can head to floir.com
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