Farmers Insurance is dropping home, auto, and umbrella coverage in Florida, it announced yesterday (July 11). The state, infamous for its hurricane seasons, has seen several insurers drop out just ahead of peak hurricane season, which tends to be most intense between August and October. Last September’s Hurricane Ian proved to be among the costliest for a struggling insurance industry.
Not all of Farmers policies are being withdrawn from the tumultuous market. The move will affect company-branded policies, which make up about 30% its policies sold in the state. Policies sold by subsidiaries like home insurer Foremost and auto insurer Bristol West will not be affected.
Farmers already decided to halt writing new policies in the Sunshine State in June. This latest recent decision “was necessary to effectively manage risk exposure,” Farmers spokesman Trevor Chapman said, adding that the company has informed the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation.
Currently, searching for policies by Florida zipcodes on the company’s website yields a “Sorry, we don’t offer insurance in your area” response. The landing page has links redirecting customers to competitors like Kin, BlueSky, AgileRates and others.
Florida stands jilted and unimpressed by Farmers’ decision. Later on July 11, the state’s insurance commissioner Michael Yaworsky sent a letter to Farmers Insurance, saying officials are “disappointed by the hastiness in this decision and troubled by how this decision may have cascading impacts to policyholders” and by the insurers’ decision to quit the market “independently” of the state’s insurance reforms.
Governor and presidential hopeful Ron DeSantis has tried to shore up the shaky market, shielding insurance companies from litigation and upping the capacity for re-insurance, which is basically insurance for insurers.
Still, insurance companies aren’t confident about remaining in the state, as reinsurance costs also rise. Farmers Insurance is at least the fourth company—after Bankers Insurance, Centauri Insurance and AIG-subsidiary Lexington Insurance—to pull out from the state in the past year, leaving homeowners with slim pickings and higher property insurance bills.
“Hearing rumors [Farmers Insurance] might pull out of Florida. If that’s true my office is going to explore every avenue possible for holding them accountable. Don’t get to leave after taking policyholder money. Can’t write auto if you’re not doing homeowners either. Zero communication!” —Florida’s chief financial officer Jimmy Patronis tweeted on July 10, a day before the official announcement was made.
100,000: Farmers Insurance policies in Florida across residential, auto, and umbrella categories that are affected by Farmers’ withdrawal, an unnamed source told CBS Miami. A breakdown by policy was not available
120 days: Notice insurers’ must give Florida’s Office of Insurance Regulation before discontinuing operations, according to state law
$6,000: How much Floridians paying private home insurers, more than triple the average annual premium in the US which costs $1,700
13: Insurance companies that have gone insolvent in Florida in recent years
$3,183: How much Floridian drivers pay per year for full coverage on average. That’s 37% higher than the national average
40%: Share of damage from the 30 most powerful storms between 1900 to 1996 that occurred in southeast Florida, elucidating how the state has always been among the most vulnerable to extreme weather events
50%: Probability of a major hurricane landfall along the coastlines of the continental US this season, above the long-period average (1880-2020) of 43%
Farmers Insurance set a cap of 7,000 new homeowners policies a month in wildfire-ridden California starting July 3. It’s reticence came amid “record-breaking inflation, severe weather events and reconstruction costs continuing to climb.”