TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Aug. 13, 2015 – Seven private insurers have been approved to pick up nearly half the remaining policies held by state-backed Citizens Property Insurance Corp.

The Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR) announced Wednesday that up to 280,857 polices have been approved to move to the private insurance industry in late October – but don't expect a mass exit from Citizens when the "takeout" period arrives.

"The number of policies that will ultimately leave Citizens will be substantially lower than the number of policies OIR has approved for takeout," Citizen spokesman Michael Peltier noted in an email Wednesday. "That has always been the case but has become more noticeable over the past few takeouts."

Citizens had 598,646 policies as of June 30.

The overall Citizens policy count is a considerable drop from a high of 1.5 million policies in 2012, when Gov. Rick Scott pushed to scale back the agency by putting more homeowners under private firms. The push was an attempt to reduce risk for policyholders across the state that could get hit with assessments to pay off Citizens claims after major hurricanes.

Citizens was created as the insurer of last resort, and President and Chief Executive Officer Barry Gilway has projected that "depopulation" steps by Citizens, which includes the takeout process, should eventually lower the agency's policy count to about 450,000 of the least-insurable policies.

Before this week's announcement, the state had made 713,336 policies available through the takeout process in 2015. So far, 128,133 policies have been removed from Citizens through the process.

A reason for the low turnover is that private insurers typically select the least-risky policies. Also, policyholders are allowed to reject takeout offers.

In October, a total of 279,357 personal-residential policies and 1,500 commercial-residential policies will be offered to Anchor Property & Casualty, Cypress Property & Casualty, Heritage Property & Casualty, Homeowners Choice Property & Casualty, Olympus Insurance, Safepoint Insurance and United Property & Casualty Insurance.

Homeowners Choice Property & Casualty, a wholly-owned insurance subsidiary of HCI Group Inc., was approved for up to 51,666 policies, but noted in a release Tuesday that it will target just about 17,500 wind-only policies.

"Based on the current opportunity within Citizens, we a