Citizens Property Insurance Corporation’s top executive warned the company’s Board of Governors Wednesday that water loss claims will continue to hamper efforts to reduce rates for many Florida policyholders.

“In claims the critical issue that has surfaced in the past two years is ‘water damage’ claims and this issue is severely impacting the loss picture in South Florida and the rates paid by tri-county constituents,” said President, CEO and Executive Director Barry Gilway.

Since January, 141,680 Citizens customers have found coverage from private companies in the state, the company said in a statement, which has allowed Citizens to shrink to under 586,000 policies from a peak of nearly 1.5 million in 2012.

Still, water loss remains a challenge for Citizens, with 50 percent of all reported new reported claims in 2013 being water damage related. It is especially a problem in Miami-Dade County where water loss claims now account for more than half of every premium dollar collected. If water claims there mirrored trends in other parts of the state, Citizens said, more than nine out of 10 Miami-Dade policyholders would see rate reductions for 2016. Instead, the Office of Insurance Regulation last month approved rates that call for an average 8.1 percent increase for Miami-Dade customers.

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