Renewing a Citizens policy? Computer intervenes starting this week

Tuesday marked the dawn of a new era for more than 900,000 customers of state-run insurer Citizens. Their decision to renew their policy could be taken out of their hands by a computer, thanks to a law passed by state legislators to help shrink Citizens last year.

A clearinghouse used by agents is supposed to make current customers ineligible for Citizens if a private company is offering coverage priced the same or less. The system has been in action since January to help keep some would-be customers out of Citizens, but technical challenges have delayed its use with current Citizens customers who want to renew policies.

The first policies affected are standard HO-3 homeowner policies with renewal dates on or after Nov. 1.

Customers can remain with Citizens if no private insurer in the clearinghouse is offering coverage priced the same or lower. Six private insurers are in the clearinghouse now for renewal business, with others expected to be added over time.

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