Florida Agency Sells Bonds to Backstop the Homeowner’s Insurance Industry. 

05 Jul

A state agency in Florida is selling municipal bonds to backstop the state’s homeowner’s insurance industry. This is due to a large number of claims and litigation that resulted in some insurers going bankrupt.

The Florida Insurance Guaranty Association, which deals with the claims left behind by insolvent insurers, is planning to borrow $600 million of bonds, according to preliminary offering documents. This will be the first time in 30 years that the state agency has had to use the municipal bond market to help cover insurance claims.

The borrowing provides the agency with needed liquidity. “Our funding sources are somewhat limited,” said Corey Neal, FIGA’s executive director in a recent Bloomberg article.

In years past, the agency used investment income and the assets of liquidated companies to help cover insurance claim payouts. FIGA last sold municipal bonds was in 1993 after Hurricane Andrew devastated South Florida.

Due to an uptick in insurance claims after Hurricane Ian as well as several lawsuits pushed 10 property insurance companies out of business in 2019 the agency’s costs have increased, making the bond sale necessary. 

Due to larger national insurance companies pulling out of the state entirely or refusing to sell policies in certain areas, homeowners have been forced to use smaller, more local firm, that may not have the financial resources to survive a major storm that results in lots of claims. 

“They’re not making enough profit,” said Neal in the Bloomberg article referring to insurers. “Some companies don’t have an appetite for Florida because it’s more risk.”

According to recent data, since 2019, a total of 10 property insurers that wrote over 440,000 policies in Florida have gone out of business, leaving FIGA to cover roughly $1.6 billion in claims according to bond documents. Rampant litigation and fraud have been the big drivers of insurer collapse, not storm damage. In 2021, Florida represented just 6.9% of total homeowner’s claims, but was responsible for 76% of the nation’s homeowner’s lawsuits.

The bonds will be sold in multiple series through the Florida Insurance Assistance Interlocal Agency.  Bank of America Corp. is handling the sale of the bonds and will set a price June 27, according to bond documents.

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