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Citizens Insurance Proposal Draws Fire From Both Sides Of The Aisle

A deal to shift up to 60,000 insurance policies from the state-backed Citizens Property Insurance Corporation to privately held Heritage Property Insurance is raising concerns.  

On the left, former Florida State Senator Dan Gelber is criticizing a $110,000 contribution made by Heritage for Governor Rick Scott’s upcoming reelection bid.

“I think the Governor needs to give the money back immediately,” Gelber said.  “It was, in its best light, horrible judgment for him to take it; in its worst light, something I don’t even want to imagine.  Then he needs to explain to Floridians what the heck he was doing taking the money in the first place.”

Governor Scott’s office released a statement Wednesday saying, “Any assertion that our office influenced the Heritage risk transfer decision by the Citizens Board today is outrageous.”

The statement went on to question the proceedings the Citizens Insurance Board followed suggesting that, “Citizens appears to be tone deaf in earning public confidence.”

But even those on the right have problems with the deal.

In a statement released Friday, Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford (R-Wesley Chapel) questioned the $52 million payout Heritage Insurance is set to receive from Citizens for taking on the policies.

“Just a few weeks ago, we passed a comprehensive insurance bill with bipartisan support aimed at responsibly reducing the number of Citizen policies at no cost,” Weatherford said.

The reaction to the Heritage takeout deal was anticipated by Citizen’s Insurance Board Member Tom Lynch during the Board’s hearing.

“I am totally in favor of the end result of transferring risk.  My problem is totally with the means of how we’re doing it.  After all the criticism that Citizen’s has been through, I just feel that we’re doing things the wrong way,” Lynch said.

The Heritage proposal was narrowly approved in a 3-2 vote.  It was expedited in the hopes of completing the deal prior to the start of  Florida’s hurricane season.