What do the Florida’s leaders have to say about our high property insurance premiums? I told to the Palm Beach Post that we should see a decline in premiums, and it looks like some of those in Tallahassee agree.
It must be noted that another hot topic in insurance news this week has been Rick Scott’s attempt to oust Kevin McCarty as from the insurance commissioner position he has held since 2003. Be sure to check out Sean Shaw’s post "Kevin McCarty and the Florida Cabinet".
Jeff Atwater, Florida’s Chief Financial Officer, attended the Florida Chamber of Commerce’s conference at Disney this week where he addressed Florida’s property insurance rates and whether carriers can withstand a hurricane. At this conference, Atwater announced a "stress test" to help the public evaluate the strength of property insurance companies in Florida.
What we know is that Florida policyholders are paying top dollar for their homeowners insurance.
Costliest home insurance
– Florida: $2,084
– Louisiana: $1,742
– Texas: $1,661
– U.S.: $1,034
Notes: Average annual premium for standard home policy, based on 2012 data
Source: National Association of Insurance Commissioners
As an attorney for policyholders, I also know that the coverage in these residential policies is limited and much more exclusionary than policies issued for these same homes 10 years ago.
Looking back over the past 10 years, the homeowners insurance market has come to be filled with small insurance companies, but during this time Citizens Property Insurance Corporation dominated as the carrier.
Today, the big name "commercial-making insurance companies" only make up 17% of the market—down from 40%. The Orlando Sentinel reported on Atwater’s speech, who stated that the small Florida insurers are strong, implying they can handle paying for massive hurricane claims.
Well, 10 years of Floridians paying astronomical insurance rates without a hurricane striking the state should make them strong.
Atwater also stated that he knows Floridians are ready for rates to go down.
The Sentinel also gave stats reported on Citizens numbers: in a three year time period Citizens dropped from 1.5 million policyholders to $600,000.
McCarty believes the savings in reinsurance should be passed on to Florida’s policyholders.
The National Association of Insurance Commissioners released a report on premiums, and Florida’s high premiums are head and shoulders above the other states.
I go toe to toe with Lynne McChristian in a recent article about the high premiums Floridians pay.
“After being hurricane free for nearly 10 years, Florida policyholders are paying unjustifiably high property insurance rates,” said Nicole Vinson, director of the advocacy group Policyholders of Florida and a Tampa attorney who sues insurers. “Frankly, it’s unacceptable.”
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“A hurricane-free decade has not changed Florida’s long hurricane history,” said Lynne McChristian, Florida representative for the Insurance Information Institute. “Despite nine consecutive years sans storms, we still have a lock on being No. 1 for natural catastrophe losses.”
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“The price we Floridians pay for property insurance is a reflection of the risk,” McChristian said. “The risk has not changed. In fact, the risk may be increasing as people may have let their guard down in the absence of a weather reminder. There are also more people and more property in vulnerable areas, not less.”
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“Yes, policyholders in the Sunshine State expect to pay more than our neighboring states but our insurance policies’ coverages have been eroded and stripped in each renewal,” Vinson said. “Along with the significant loss of insurance coverage comes a bill for a higher annual premium.”
It will be interesting to see Atwater’s "stress test" and whether three years of premiums to the take-out companies makes a difference in the big picture.