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Citizens opens two mobile catastrophe centers in SWFL to help policyholders

The insurance company is opening the locations in Fort Myers and Port Charlotte with more possibly on the way.

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Citizens Property Insurance Corp., Florida’s embattled insurer of last resort, has opened Catastrophe Response Centers in Fort Myers and Port Charlotte.

Citizens officials say the centers are to process claims and help those affected by the storms.

The CRC in Port Charlotte will be in the parking lot of the Port Charlotte Town Center, 1441 Tamiami Trail. In Fort Myers it will be at the Lakes Regional Library, 15290 Bass Road. Each center will be open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

More sites could open soon if needed, according to a statement. 

Citizens says the centers will give policyholders who lost their usual means of communications a chance to meet with staff who can answer questions and help file claims. Policyholders will also be able to receive advance payments for additional living expenses if their individual policy includes it.

Barry Gilway, Citizens’ president, CEO and executive director, says in a statement that “If our customers can’t come to us, we will try to get to them.

“Citizens is on the ground to help our policyholders in especially hard-hit areas to provide help to those unable to reach us online or by phone.”

Citizens is Florida’s state-run insurance entity. It was designed to be the insurer of last resort, but as the state’s insurance market has deteriorated over the past few years, with rates rising, coverage shrinking and insurance companies folding or deciding to no longer write in Florida, more and more people have turned to Citizens.

As of Aug. 31, Citizens had 1.02 million policies in place. In August 2021 it had 687,000 and 499,000 in August 2020.

While claims, thanks to guarantees and reinsurance programs, will be paid, what happens after Hurricane Ian could radically alter the state’s insurance market — and not for the better, experts fear.


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