needed more information to do this than they would typically
be provided by an agent using a comparative rater, so Citizens
and Bolt worked with the participating companies to make sure
they had the underwriting questions needed to present the offer
of coverage, which was stronger than a simple quote.
Citizens helped the various companies determine what
questions needed to be asked and loaded them into the system.
That information gets shipped through the clearinghouse and
each company gets to customize through their dashboard the
type of risk they are interested in.
A carrier won’t see every policy that comes into Citizens. They
can pick the ZIP code, year of construction, and rating characteristics, such as roof material, they are interested in writing.
“They set parameters around the risk they want to quote,”
says Bitar. “When one makes it through the criteria, it reaches
the company’s rating engine and an offer is issued.”
Those offers are stacked side by side next to the Citizens
offer, according to Bitar. The agent works with the policyhold-
er to review the offerings and determine what direction the
homeowner wants to take. If the premium from the private
insurer is up to 15 percent greater than the Citizens offer, the
customer, by law, becomes ineligible for a policy with Citizens.
As a result, the customer will often choose the offer presented
by the insurer (although they are not required to do so, and may
pursue coverage from other private insurers).
Bitar believes Bolt offered the best value for the clearinghouse technology from a pricing perspective as well as from the
level of experience and the technology Citizens was receiving.
“They were able to demonstrate they had the technology that
would do what we needed and provided a project team to partner
with us on site,” he says. “We worked with their developers, our
business team, and out technology team. We also had to partner
with the insurance companies. There were a lot of process screens
running concurrently in order to meet our aggressive deadline.”
Bitar explains the difficult part of the project was the develop-
ment work done with each of the insurance carriers. As Citizens
signed up new companies to join the clearinghouse they had to in-
tegrate the Bolt solution with the underwriting and rating systems
of each company. Currently, Citizens has 14 companies quoting
through the system and two more will join this spring.
“We’ve got a great variety of companies participating,” he says
Bitar believes there is a solid representation of companies
from across Florida working with Citizens, but some Florida
domestic carriers are not connected. Participation is voluntary.
“We reach out to the companies and share what it takes,” says
Bitar. “We assess their technology and their appetite to participate
and based on that we work with their leadership team to onboard
them and schedule the process. We’ve been fortunate with 14 com-
panies to come online and we have more that want to participate.
We are in the scheduling process with them. As the clearinghouse
continues to demonstrate its ability to identify desirable risks for
The carriers currently taking part are the ones that want to
grow in Florida, explains Bitar. A lot of larger national carriers
renew their Florida policies, but most are uninterested in doing
new business in the state.
“We look at who has the growing market share and who is
writing in Florida,” says Bitar. “We looked at the top 25 com-
panies that write in the state and many of them are Florida
domestic companies, so we work with them.”
Citizens is a mechanism that will always be in Florida,
explains Bitar. The company is there to expand or contract,
depending on the marketplace. The clearinghouse gives the
industry the infrastructure so Citizens can either shrink or grow
in a limited manner.
Citizens also takes its renewal book of business and pushes
that to participating companies to see if they are interested in
making an offer. From its peak at 1.5 million policies, Bitar
reports Citizens now sits at about 500,000 policies.
“We can’t take all the credit for that, but it’s a great confluence to have the clearinghouse do what it does as well as having
private companies with an appetite so we are able to bring them
more policies,” he says.
Bitar believes the great thing about Citizens is the company knows it is in the business to be out of the business. That
information is shared when they hire staff. Citizens has a core
group that is on staff that is the infrastructure it takes to run
the company no matter how large or small it gets. Citizens uses
outsourcing partners to scale depending on growth.
“When we were at 1.5 million policies, we outsourced up to
90 percent of our new business underwriting and 50 percent of
our call volume,” says Bitar. “We expand and contract with our
outsourcing business partners. Now we are down to outsourcing 20
percent of our new business on the underwriting side. We are able
to negotiate and then scale. Our partners know that when Citizen
shrinks, they will get less work. It’s in their best interest to also work
with the private sector because when we shrink they grow so out-
sourcers can service that business regardless of where it goes.”
Florida property and casualty insurers have had 10 solid
years of good fortune, explains Bitar, and that means Citizens
has seen much of that in its own results.
“We have been able to shrink significantly because it’s a
healthy marketplace right now,” says Bitar. “However, for us, it’s
a question of when the next storm will hit, not if. We know it is
going to happen, we just have to be prepared for the growth in
Citizens’ policy count when it does.”
Bitar has seen the initial weather forecasts that report this
year’s hurricane season along with the 2017 season should be
heavier than any the state has seen in the last decade. Bitar
doesn’t put a great deal of credence in long-range forecasts.
“We are doing what we can to be prepared, like we always do, but
in the end it’s weather,” he says. “You can only predict so much.” ITA