After two months in his new role as president of Florida's Citizens Property Insurance Corp., Barry Gilway said the insurer will be taking a hard look at expenses and implement plans to increase communication with policyholders, particularly over a mitigation-inspection program in which some policyholders are losing their fortification credits.
Gilway's comments came Aug. 17 during a conference call that provided an update on areas the state's insurer of last resort is focusing. Gilway started as president in June, ending the insurer's six-month search for a permanent replacement for former president Scott Wallace, who announced his resignation in January.
"My first focus has been to really take a look at the entire organization," Gilway said. "We want to take a look and really make sure that Citizens will be run in the most fiscally prudent and efficient manner, and it's going to require a top-to-bottom approach."
One of the biggest expenses Citizens will have to address is its office locations in three of Florida's major cities: Tampa, Jacksonville, and Tallahassee. Gilway said the company plans to weigh advantages of being in three major cities and the benefits of being more protected from catastrophes against the expense of running all those offices.
Another key area on which Gilway said Citizens is focusing is taking a comprehensive look at the budget, including staffing levels. Gilway said he is optimistic that various efficiencies can be brought to the surface after a hard look at the company's operations.
"I've never entered an organization where we can't make improvements by taking a fresh look at our operations," Gilway said.
Another initiative Citizens announced was an outreach program designed to inform its policyholders about mitigation credit reinspections. Since the beginning of the year, Citizens has been reassessing buildings to make sure they qualify for credits on the books.Gilway said about 255,000 buildings have been reassessed, with about 88,000 remaining.
The outreach program is the insurer's response to what it called "serious questions and concerns about the fairness of the inspection process and its effect on premiums."
"The message out there is that this program is designed to increase premiums—that's the last objective," Gilway said.
However, according to Citizens data the reinspection program has so far resulted in an estimated net premium increase of $101.2 million.
Citizens is Florida's largest writer of homeowners insurance and the company's management was called on in November by Gov. Rick Scott to develop a plan to shrink the company