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9/22/2017 12:11:25 AM
Posted: 8/12/2005 6:15:30 AM EDT
Guess who my friggin carrier is?


Nationwide Insurance plans to stop writing new homeowners' policies across Florida starting in September, the same month its policyholders start paying higher premiums under a recently approved rate hike.

The pullback by the fourth-largest property carrier in the state is the latest fallout from a four-hurricane season last year that persuaded many insurers to reduce their risk here.

At least seven companies have left Florida or stopped writing policies since hurricanes Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne racked up $22-billion in insured damages. Among them: Safeco Insurance, which told the state last month it would not write new policies and, beginning in 2006, would stop renewing customers. Allstate also has decided not to renew 95,000 policies.

Beyond not writing new policies, Nationwide may join them in dropping some of its customers or limiting their coverage.

"We, at this point, do not intend to fully withdraw from homeowners in Florida, but we will probably be taking further steps," said Joe Case, a spokesman for Columbus, Ohio-based Nationwide. "We're looking at all the options available to us."

Nationwide likely will announce more changes affecting Florida within a couple of months, he said.

Just last month, Nationwide won approval to raise rates an average of 21 percent on homeowners' policies and 25 percent for mobile homes.

The timing of a ban on new policies "may be hard for (Florida customers) to understand," Case said. But he insisted the decision was made independent of the rate request.

Asked whether Nationwide should have revealed the possibility of a Florida pullback to regulators and homeowners during rate hearings, Case said, "All I can tell you is we tried to act as forthrightly as we possibly could . . . We have to manage these issues as they evolve."

Bob Lotane of the Florida Department of Financial Services said Nationwide's rate increase was based on its existing policy base. Regulators are monitoring the insurer's review but have received no notice of a cutback in policies that could affect its rates.

Case said the company writes a minimal number of new policies, but could not be more specific.

The ban on writing new policies includes single-family houses, condominiums, mobile homes and boats as well as renters' insurance. The company will continue to sell auto policies in Florida, Case said. Nationwide is the fourth-largest auto insurer in Florida with, like homeowners', about 300,000 policies.

The biggest insurers, State Farm and Allstate, have not written homeowners' policies in high-risk, coastal areas of the state for years.

Increasingly, the only choice for property owners seeking coverage is one of the many startup insurers with a limited track record for handling claims or the state-run Citizens Property Insurance, which covers those who cannot find property insurance on the open market. Citizens has swelled into the second-largest insurer in Florida. By state law, its premiums are supposed to be higher than the market average as a disincentive to be used by homeowners as an easy fallback.

Last year, Citizens was ill-equipped to handle the thousands of claims pouring in from four hurricanes in six weeks, leading to a major revamping of operations heading into this season.

Floridians have long been suffering from soaring homeowners' premiums, driven by escalating home prices, mold, sinkhole worries and, of course, hurricanes.

Homeowners' insurance jumped about 50 percent on average between 1999 and 2004, before the round of double-digit hikes that have hit policyholders this year. For many individual policyholders, rates have more than doubled.

More than 20 homeowners' insurers have filed for rate increases since last year's hurricanes.

Nationwide sought a 28 percent average increase in rates in January, a filing that angered regulators given the insurer had just received approval for double-digit rate hikes in spring 2004, shortly before the hurricanes struck.

The January filing prompted Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty to urge other insurers to hold off on filing for rate increases until the state could consider fixes to the market during the spring's Legislative session.

A month ago, McCarty's office approved raising Nationwide's rates by 21 percent on average; the insurer agreed to a cap of 37.5 percent as the highest increase for any policy.

In the bay area: Pinellas County homeowners insured by Nationwide face an average 29 percent increase in premiums; Hillsborough, 16.3 percent; Pasco, 28.9 percent; Hernando, 22.8 percent; and Citrus, 3.8 percent.

Information from Times wires was used in this report. Jeff Harrington can be reached at harrington@sptimes.com or 813 226-3407.



Link Posted: 8/12/2005 7:34:11 AM EDT
a common misconception is that insurance companies exist to help & render a beneficial service.

this is incorrect; insurance companies are here solely to profit from the gamble that the insured won't have a claim. And if the insured is an ungrateful b@st@rd and files a claim after faithfully paying his premiums, he is punished by either having his rates increased or by being dropped altogether. Also, if the insurance company predicts rising claims in a certain area, such as hurricane-prone FL, they simply stop writing coverage for those areas...very much like a person who sells his stocks when he gets a tip that they are about to tank.

(this is my broad, irritable generalization of the day, fueled by a hellacious migraine headache.)

Link Posted: 8/12/2005 12:09:31 PM EDT
Companies start and stop writing in states all the time. The company I worked for doesn't write auto policies in New Jersey, Rhode Island, or Massachutses because of legislation and claim rates. In the past, my company has stopped writing in Flordia for a year or so, and then came back to the market.

Because of the laws in Florida, you will be able to get insurance. The rates will just suck. You'll probably be assigned to Florida Wind Writers or JUA, where the state requires a company to insure you, and helps subsidize the added costs and losses.

Don't ever let your Home Owners Policy lapse for more then 30 days, or it will cost you an arm and a leg to get re-written.

Good luck!
Link Posted: 8/12/2005 1:48:02 PM EDT
All Florida homeowners need to remember their insurance costs and all the problems dealing with claims when it comes time to vote for the next govenor. The person who has buckled under the pressure from insurance companies is no other than Tom Gallagher. As some of you know he is trying to win the Rebuplican nomination for govenor. Notice in the article that was posted his name was not mentioned. Well every time something good happens with DFS his face or name is always there, but if it is negative he doesn't want any part of it. I use to work for DFS so I know how he works. I was there on the ground after Ivan, Frances, and Jeanne providing police protection for the victims with the countless other law enforcement officers and national guard troops. In fact after one of the storms I was assigned to protect insurance adjusters siting in a parking lot. If was a tough detail because these companies were dicking people over and they probably needed their butts kicked.

Just my 2 cents.

Gatorfan
Link Posted: 8/13/2005 4:56:21 AM EDT
They have my houe and autos. If they drop my house I'll drop the autos.
Gerry
Link Posted: 8/13/2005 5:26:57 AM EDT

Originally Posted By snail50:
a common misconception is that insurance companies exist to help & render a beneficial service.

this is incorrect; insurance companies are here solely to profit from the gamble that the insured won't have a claim. And if the insured is an ungrateful b@st@rd and files a claim after faithfully paying his premiums, he is punished by either having his rates increased or by being dropped altogether. Also, if the insurance company predicts rising claims in a certain area, such as hurricane-prone FL, they simply stop writing coverage for those areas...very much like a person who sells his stocks when he gets a tip that they are about to tank.

(this is my broad, irritable generalization of the day, fueled by a hellacious migraine headache.)


U said that in a NUTSHELL.
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