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Tuesday, July 28 2020

Florida’s state-run insurer Citizens Property Insurance Corp. will extend its moratorium on cancellations and nonrenewals until the end of 2020 despite saying earlier this month it would resume processing them on Aug. 15.

The decision comes after Florida CFO Jimmy Patronis urged the insurer not to cancel customer policies during hurricane season and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“Hurricane season is just beginning to heat up and we are in the middle of an unprecedented health and economic crisis. This is not the time to cancel Citizens’ home insurance policies,” Patronis said in a public statement released by his office, the Florida Department of Financial Services, on July 24.

The insurer originally announced in an agent bulletin July 9 that it would resume the processing of cancellations and nonrenewals beginning Aug. 15, 2020, after imposing a moratorium in March to address a significant uptick in the percentage of premiums not paid by the due date.

Citizens reported that figure has since fallen to pre-COVID-19 levels, and now stands at 7.5%.

Patronis noted that what policyholders owe must still be paid, “but cancelling their policies during hurricane season should not be an option.”

“Faced with the uncertainty of COVID-19, Citizens in March took steps we believed were in the best financial interest of our policyholders. Likewise, the decision to end the temporary moratorium on August 15 was made with our policyholders’ best financial interests in mind,” Gilway said on Friday in response to Patronis’ statement.

Gilway added that the insurer would work with its board and other stakeholders to “do what’s best for our customers in these challenging times,” and on July 25 announced it would extend the moratorium on cancellations and nonrenewals until the end of 2020.

Citizens Board of Governors’ Chairman Bo Rivard said the rapidly changing Florida landscape warranted a re-evaluation of plans made in early July to end the moratorium August 15.

“COVID-19 has been a moving target and I agree that at this time it makes good sense to extend the moratorium until the end of the year,” Rivard said.

Gilway said since it enacted the moratorium, Citizens has put together special payment arrangements to assist customers still affected by COVID-19, including allowing policyholders who typically pay premiums on a quarterly or annual basis the option of breaking up payments into smaller installments.

“Our top priority has been and will continue to be our policyholders,” Gilway said. “This extension will provide our customers with further assurances that we have their backs during hurricane season and beyond.”

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