Volatility in the Florida insurance market shows no signs of easing.
Farmers Insurance announced this week its decision to stop offering Farmers-branded auto, home and umbrella insurance policies in Florida. The move is expected to impact around 100,000 policies issued through their exclusive agent distribution channel, the company said.
“There is no impact on 70% of the policies currently in place for customers in the state, including those of Bristol West, Foremost Signature, Farmers GroupSelect, Foremost Choice and Foremost,” the company said in a statement to NBC6. “Such policies will continue to be available to meet the insurance needs of Florida residents.”
Mark Friedlander of the Insurance Information Institute told NBC6 that the announcement wasn’t necessarily unexpected, especially since Farmers announced a pause in new business writing earlier this year.
“It’s very unfortunate when a large national insurance company suspends operations in Florida and decides to exit the market,” Friedlander said.
Over the past 18 months, 15 companies have stopped doing new business in Florida, three have voluntarily exited the market, and seven have been declared insolvent, according to the institute.
Friedlander said farmers have little market share, so he doesn’t expect the announcement to have a significant impact, especially in South Florida.
“But in general, the South Florida market is still very dangerous,” he said. “Limited options, very expensive options.”
The farmers notified the Florida Insurance Regulatory Authority of their decision on Monday. The company said in a statement that the move “…was necessary for effective risk management.” The company has stated that none of the policies will be lifted, but they expect to start sending out non-renewal notices in 90 days.
“Affected customers will receive notifications detailing when their insurance coverage will end and will be advised of their options to replace coverage,” the company said in a statement.
Friedländer said he expects policyholders who are currently insured by farmers to be protected for the life of their policies.
“You will have full protection for the entire duration of the policy, including the hurricane season,” he said. “You don’t have to worry about it.”
He also explained that the transition will take time.
“Implementation of the non-renewal program will not start until the first quarter of next year, and it will be more than a 12-month cycle based on individual policyholders’ renewal dates,” he said.
Meanwhile, Florida CFO Jimmy Patronis released a statement calling for more due diligence on farmers, saying in part: “I’ve directed my consumer services department to take a deeper look into farmer insurance complaints – and if those complaints fall within certain thresholds, it will to an investigation of market behavior that could lead to the imposition of fines on the carrier.”
A spokesman for Farmers declined to comment on the statement released by Patronis.
If you have a Farmers insurance policy, you can contact your insurance agent to find out about the different coverage options that may be available to you. You don’t have to wait until you get a non-renewal notice to look for new coverage.