ORLANDO, Fla. – Farmers Insurance Group is no longer writing new property insurance policies in Florida, the company confirmed to News 6 on Friday.
A memo sent to agents and obtained by News 6 shows Farmers instituted a restriction on writing new policies in the state, effective Feb. 1.
“In Florida especially, we’ve seen a mix of various unique challenges, and catastrophe costs are at historically high levels,” the memo said. “Housing prices are increasing, and inventory supply and demand, lumber prices and costs of labor are contributing to the increase. These issues also are increasing the costs of claims, which in turn drives down profitability.”
In response to our inquiry, a Farmers representative put out the following statement:
With catastrophe costs at historically high levels and reconstruction costs continuing to climb, we implemented a pause on writing new homeowners policies to more effectively manage our risk exposure.Luis Sahagun, Farmers Insurance Spokesman
An agent with Farmers who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of their job said the insurance company was also looking at the future of doing business in Florida altogether.
“There’s supposed to be news about what the state of Florida is going to bring and whether Farmers is going to stay or go and what they’re gonna do with agents,” the agent said.
If Farmers were to leave the state, the company would have to notify the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation and have a plan in place that gives homeowners ample notice, according to Lisa Miller, a former deputy insurance commissioner for the state of Florida who is now an insurance advisor.
The agent said the company is dealing with a combination of recent hurricanes and a lack of sound actuarial policies, and the lawsuit problem -- the amount of cases involving insurance companies -- in Florida likely contributed to Farmers’ issues in the state. Florida lawmakers attempted to address this with two special sessions last year meant to rein in legal costs for insurers.
“To me, (Farmers) didn’t know what they were doing when they came into the state,” the agent said. “All the other companies have market restrictions.”
Farmers first started selling insurance in Florida in 2018.
In the meantime, Miller, said homeowners should make sure their homes are “wind-worthy,” but they should also call their insurance agents and be direct, asking, “Is Farmers thinking of leaving the market?”
“It just makes sense to check in with your insurance agent two or three times a year to find out anything new about your insurance company. There is no such thing anymore as an annual renewal. Frequent communication is best,” said Miller.
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