State Farm Florida Insurance Company announced in January that it plans to leave the Florida Property and Casualty insurance market. The only thing that we are waiting for is the terms of the company’s withdrawal and the timing of the policy cancellations.
Front and center are the estimated 700,000 State Farm Florida home insurance policies that are expected to be cancelled over a two year period – that’s over 29,000 policies that will be cancelled each and every month for two years. Regardless of your perspective, this is the most significant event that has ever occurred in the history of the Florida homeowners insurance market – and you could not pick a worse time for this to happen.
For starters, many of those State Farm Florida home insurance cancellations will begin at almost the exact same time that Citizens Property Insurance Corporation will begin raising its rates in 2010 as required by state law.
Although it has become fashionable to hate big Florida home insurance companies, here are some little known facts that you won’t ever see in the news coverage of the State Farm Florida withdrawal:
Customers of State Farm Florida love this company, its customer service, the multiline discounts, and the fast and fair claim service they received from the company after the 2004/2005 Florida hurricanes.
When State Farm Florida customers are asked to rate their overall satisfaction with the company on a “1-10” scale, many rate the company as a “10” even if their policy is being cancelled by the company!
Although State Farm Florida’s 47% rate increase was turned down prior to their withdrawal announcement, most of the data that we are collecting says that the annual premiums State Farm Florida policyholders are paying are among the lowest in Florida – due in part to the multi-line discounts for auto, home, and life along with major wind mitigation credits that many customers are receiving.
None of the above changes the fact that State Farm Florida is leaving the Florida home insurance market. Given this reality here are some things that you need to be aware of if you are a customer of State Farm Florida and you want to take action in response to this announcement.
To begin with, your State Farm Florida Insurance Agent is not allowed at the present time to present you with any other alternative Florida homeowners insurance companies except for Florida’s state run insurance company of last resort – Citizens Property Insurance Corporation – which has publicly stated that it is currently underfunded and overly dependent on hostile financial bond market borrowing on unfriendly terms in order to pay major hurricane claims.
As you look for companies to replace your State Farm Florida home insurance policy, many of you will be facing increases that range from 70% to over 200% on your annual premium.
Expect to see a dramatic difference in your new Florida home insurance company – both in terms of the size of the financial surplus it has available to pay your claim and in the headcount it has available for customer service and claims processing. State Farm Florida has more surplus available to pay claims than most of the 40 companies that are still writing new Florida home insurance business combined!
Much of the advice that you’ve received as a State Farm Florida policyholder has been that you should not take any action now and that you should wait for your Florida home insurance cancellation notice. If you take that advice you could be very sorry in Florida’s dysfunctional home insurance market:
To begin with, you’ve probably heard reports about many Florida homeowners insurance companies that have stated that they are interested in picking up your State Farm Florida homeowners insurance policy. Don’t assume that there will be plenty of policies with a new company to go around when your State Farm Florida policy is cancelled.
Some of the companies that initially stated their interest in picking up State Farm Florida policies have tightened up their underwriting guidelines and become more selective about the kind of homes they will accept. Since the State Farm Florida exit announcement, two companies that had expressed interest in taking on some of the policies have had their licenses temporarily suspended.
Many of the State Farm Florida policies being cancelled are homes that were built between 1950 and 1981 – before the stronger Florida Building Codes of the 1990’s – not exactly the kind of homes that Florida home insurance companies are going to be anxious to cover.
Because of the financial shortfalls at both Citizens Property Insurance Corporation and The Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund, if there is a major Florida hurricane during the 2009 season, don’t expect any companies to be willing to pick up your policy when State Farm Florida cancels it starting in 2010.
Here’s what you should do right now if you are a State Farm Florida home insurance policyholder:
Don’t wait until you receive your cancellation notice – start shopping for a new company right now!
Call several Florida independent home insurance agents that represent multiple homeowners insurance companies and find a new private insurance policy before June 1st when the 2009 hurricane season begins.
Do in depth research on all of the Florida home insurance companies you are considering. If you receive a letter from a company offering to pick up your policy, don’t accept their offer until you have thoroughly investigated them.
Don’t accept your State Farm Florida home insurance policy being moved into Citizens Property Insurance Corporation unless you have personally done the research and confirmed that there aren’t any private Florida home insurance companies who want to cover your home.
Finally, as someone who knows the score in the Florida homeowners insurance market, you know that finding a new company in Florida has never been easy – from the time of Hurricane Andrew in 1992 and continuing through to today.
That’s why you have to start shopping for a new policy now. Don’t wait for State Farm Florida to cancel your policy. If you do, you’ll have the unpleasant experience of scrambling and competing with 29,000 other State Farm policyholders who will be looking for a new Florida home insurance policy at the exact same time that you are.
It’s a game of musical chairs that you have to avoid at all costs!
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