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Florida CFO Patronis on Farmers Insurance pulling out, "I'm concerned, but I'm angry"

Fewer options for property insurance in Florida
Fewer options for property insurance in Florida 02:30

TALLAHASSEE - Florida CFO Jimmy Patronis said he is concerned and angry that Farmers Insurance is pulling out of the state.

Farmers Insurance said it will end residential, auto, and umbrella policies in Florida, forcing tens of thousands of customers to look elsewhere for coverage.

Farmers will not write new policies or renew existing policies. The non-renewals will play out over several months.

The company said the move will affect only Farmers-branded policies and will not affect policies sold in the state by subsidiaries Foremost and Bristol West. It indicated that Farmers-branded policies make up about 30 percent of the policies sold by the affiliated companies in Florida.

Those seeking insurance will have to contact other providers that still issuing policies in the state. 

"I don't think they were transparent and I thought their actions were very ham-handed, it's just disappointing," said Patronis.

He said his plan now is to take aim at complaints against the company.

"If theres a habitual pattern of complaints, that are there, that triggered a market conduct study that shows that they were wrong, then we will go and fine them, so we've got those tools in our tool kit," he said. 

Farmers said in a statement that the decision was based on risk exposure in the hurricane-prone state and that notifications will be sent out to affected policyholders along with advice on replacing coverage.

At the end of 2022, average annual property insurance premiums had risen to more than $4,200 in Florida, which is triple the national average. About 12% of homeowners in the state didn't have property insurance, compared with the national average of 5%, according to the Insurance Information Institute, a research organization funded by the insurance industry. At least six insurers went insolvent in Florida last year.

Florida has struggled to keep the insurance market healthy since 1992, when Hurricane Andrew flattened Homestead, wiped out some insurance carriers and left many remaining companies fearful to write or renew policies in Florida. Risks for carriers have also been growing as climate change increases the strength of hurricanes and the intensity of rainstorms.

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