Florida Home Insurance Crisis Continues to Increase

14 Sep

All signs point to Florida homeowners seeing their homeowner insurance bills going up as the property insurance crisis in the Sunshine state continues to grow. In August, another insurance company went belly up, this was the 10thinsurer to go under since April of 2021. 

As insurers go under, the Florida Insurance Guaranty Association (FIGA) which is the state-created non-profit that “establishes and maintains a service-oriented operation for processing covered claims of insolvent members,” issues a surcharge to homeowners on their premiums to cover claims from the insurers that have gone into receivership. 

This is the second time in 2022 that FIGA has issued a surcharge and the third time since 2020. In 2022 those assessments allowed surcharges to go up to 2% with 1.3% added to premiums in March and another 0.7% in August.

The 0.7% surcharge was approved in August after the Florida Office of Insurance (OIR) Regulation ordered a levy. According to a WFLA 8 article, the OIR claims that “the liquidation of Southern Fidelity Insurance company resulted in FIGA receiving in excess of 5,000 claims with unpaid losses and return premium in excess of $178 million.”

FIGA has warned the OIR that their cash flow would be “materially impacted” by the insolvency of Southern Fidelity and the surcharges would need to continue into 2023. The OIR said that the surcharge collections will “result in approximately $168 million in assessments for FIGA policies” through Dec. 31, 2023, according to the WFLA 8 article.

The continued insolvencies in the property insurance market come as Demotech (an insurance company rating agency) has delayed but not withdrawn ratings downgrades for 17 insurers in the state. If these downgrades eventually happen, those 17 insurers could be forced into receivership. 

While the state managed to prevent Demotech from releasing the downgrades, they have not been cancelled and the state insurance commissioner, David Altmaier has started his own watch list which has almost 30 insurers on it. 

The ratings downgrade was prevented when OIR said they had entered into a temporary reinsurance arrangement with Citizens Property Insurance Corporation which allows insurance companies to meet the requirement of federally backed mortgages must be insured by an insurer that has at least an “A” rating from a rating agency. This is a temporary solution as it moves a huge amount of risk onto Citizens Property. 

“OIR’s greatest priority is ensuring consumers have access to insurance, especially during hurricane season; and because of the uncertainty with the status of Demotech’s ratings, we’ve been forced to take extraordinary steps to protect millions of consumers,” Altmaier said in a July press release. 

Unfortunately, even with the increased levies and surcharges, FIGA says they will only be able to cover up to $300,000 in claim costs for each claim. The current median price of a home in Florida is $412,000 which means that homeowners with a home that is valued at more than $300,000 will be on the hook for any excess over $300,000. 

According to the Florida Chief Financial Officer’s office reports there are currently 15 companies in liquidation and receivership in Florida and 11 of those companies are property insurers.

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