Hartford To Cancel 38,000 Florida Policies

According to local television station, Tampa Bay 10, the governor signed an emergency rule to freeze rates and stop nonrenewals for 90 days, while also preventing cancellations of insurance through the end of the hurricane season.

While designed to help Florida residents, the move has backfired. Hot on the heels of the new rule, The Hartford, one of Florida's biggest insurers, is planning to cancel 38,000 policies. This represents 1/3 of Hartford's policies in Florida. On Friday, Tower Hill Insurance Group (another large player in the Florida insurance market) announced that they would cease to write policies for a swath of 16 Florida counties, including
Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco.

Which left Jerry Garner of Associated Content musing: Could this signal a wider insurance pull out from weather-worn Florida?

Insurers have been responsible for millions in claims after the 2005 hurricane season. Some of these claims are still outstanding. In the wake of that hurricane season, rates have gone up and many have found that they either cannot get insurance or that rates are exorbitant. Here at InsuranceGuide101.com, I have increasingly received questions from Florida residents asking who to get insurance from.  I don't have a good answer for them.

I have to wonder if there is an insurance crisis in full swing already, and Florida hasn't see the last of it. Many policy holders are worried that their coverage will be cancelled (if it hasn't already been), and who will insure them in future.
Could this spread to all of the Gulf Coast? After all, severe weather isn't just a Florida problem.

There certainly is a trend for insurers to reduce risk by cancelling policies or by pulling out of types of coverage. We've seen this with liability insurance for owners of certain dog breeds. Publicly-traded insurers are seeking to satisfy profit-hungry shareholders. Insuring in a claims-heavy environment does not please those who hold shares.

This insurer pull-out could even drive the state of Florida into the insurance business in order to meet the needs of residents.

I wonder how long it will be before California residents who are trying to get fire coverage will be facing exclusions for wildfire? At the moment, wildfire is generally covered under a standard homeowners policy; but will residents soon find that "wildfire" is classified separately, and requires a special endorsement that costs them more money? How soon after that will it be that those in the line of fire will find problems getting insurance?

Monique L. Attinger
Posted by editor@insuranceguide101.com on February 8,2007 at 3:03 PM
I absolutely agree. The problem with the increasing contention between insurer and insured is that it can only get worse --  both due to the pressure to create more and more profit (especially for publicly-traded companies) and the incentive for the insurer to reduce risk which can result in both lack of payment on a claim and cancelled policies, like we have in the case of Hartford and the state of Florida.
Posted by WealthyGeek on February 8,2007 at 2:01 PM
I hope people realize what kind of crisis this is going to cause in the insurance world, especially since these kinds of freak weather disasters will no longer seem so 'freak' anymore. Climate change isn't just affecting polar bears in the arctic. Expect more Katrinas in the future, which will cause even more conflict between insurers and the insured.
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