Citizens Property Insurance Corporation’s Board of Governors on Thursday took a major step toward launching the consumer clearinghouse by selecting the company to service policyholders and agents when the program kicks off January 1, 2014.
By unanimous vote, the board approved a contract with Bolt Solutions Inc., a Farmington, Connecticut based company with offices in Sarasota. The company will provide the software platform linking private insurers with consumers seeking to renew policies or purchase new coverage with Citizens.
Established in 2001, Bolt provides online insurance placement to small businesses and consumers in 50 states and similar clearinghouse services to major national carriers. Under the terms of the deal, the 10-year agreement may not exceed $44.9 million and includes an initial five-year contract period and a five-year renewal option.
The board’s decision Thursday was a critical milestone in Citizens’ efforts to provide many of its customers with more and better choices to insure their homes. Authorized by state lawmakers earlier this year, the clearinghouse will shop for comparable offers of coverage from participating private-market carriers before placing or renewing personal lines coverage with Citizens.
“Florida’s insurance market is expanding, with private-market options for residential insurance becoming increasingly available,” said Citizens’ Board Chairman Chris Gardner. “By helping match homeowners with these options, the clearinghouse will perform an invaluable service, both for Florida’s insurance consumers and for all Floridians.”
Under the new law, existing Citizens policyholders may not renew their policy after January 1 if they receive a comparable private-market offer with a premium that is equal to or less than their Citizens renewal premium. New customers receiving a private market offer for comparable coverage that is within 15% of Citizens’ quote will also be required to obtain coverage with a private insurer.
“In many cases, the clearinghouse will offer policyholders the opportunity to obtain better coverage at comparable or better rates,” said Citizens CEO Barry Gilway. “At the same time, it will help Citizens return to its core mission as Florida’s insurer of last resort.”