Published: Jul 27, 2011 6:01 PM EDT
Updated: Jul 27, 2011 2:34 PM EDT

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - Florida's largest property insurance company is seeking an average increase of nearly 430 percent in optional sinkhole coverage.

The board of state-backed Citizens Property Insurance Corp. unanimously voted for the higher rates Wednesday.

The panel also agreed to seek state approval for increases averaging up to 8.8 percent for non-sinkhole premiums.

Citizens insures more than 1.4 million homes and businesses in Florida.

A new law passed this year allows the company to charge whatever it takes to pay for sinkhole claims.

Annual increases for all other coverage, including hurricanes and other wind storms, remain capped at 10 percent.

Citizens lost more than $200 million on sinkhole coverage in 2010.

Homeowners in high-claim areas mostly around Tampa Bay will see their sinkhole rates increase by as much as $5,000.

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