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Florida's insurer of last resort has seen its policies climb 45 percent in the last year

A damaged business is seen in the aftermath of Hurricane Sally, Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020, in Perdido Key, Fla.
Angie Wang
A damaged business is seen in the aftermath of Hurricane Sally, Sept. 17, 2020, in Perdido Key, Fla.

The state-backed Citizens Property Insurance Corp. ended May with 883,333 policies, a nearly 45 percent increase from a year earlier, according to newly posted data.

The insurer had 609,805 policies as of May 31, 2021, but it has continued to add thousands of policies a week as private insurers drop customers and seek hefty rate increases amid financial losses.

The new total was a nearly 91 percent increase from the 463,247 policies that Citizens had on May 31, 2020, data posted on the Citizens website show. “This is one of those stories that, unfortunately, the news is not getting better with time,” Citizens Chief Operating Officer Kelly Booten told members of the Citizens Market Accountability Advisory Committee last week.

Gov. Ron DeSantis called a special legislative session in May to try to shore up the insurance market. Lawmakers passed a series of changes, including setting aside $2 billion to help provide critical reinsurance to insurers; addressing roof-damage claims; and taking steps to restrict attorney fees in lawsuits against insurers. But it remains unclear how much short-term help the changes will provide.