Florida’s biggest private insurer of property, State Farm Florida, has told Gov. Charlie Crist it would “be willing to re-examine its options” and its decision to leave the state’s home insurance market if he signs a bill on his desk designed to deregulate rates for large insurance companies.
Jim Thompson, president, State Farm Florida, in a letter to Crist dated June 16, stressed that any change in his company’s current plan to leave the state would have to happen quickly due to the insurer’s compromised financial state. Ratings analysts at A.M.Best last week downgraded the insurer.
Thompson also said the state insurance department would have to be willing to implement the law right away in keeping with its sponsors’ intent.
Crist has until June 27 to either sign or veto the measure (HB 1171) that would allow large national carriers including State Farm to write property risks in the state using rates that are not reviewed by the state.
Smaller insurers, including a number of domestic start-ups, would still have their rates subject to state review.
State Farm Florida has said it must leave the state because Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty has not allowed it to charge prices it needs to remain solvent. It has filed a withdrawal plan with the Office of Insurance Regulation but the details of the plan are still in negotiation.
A.M. Best said State Farm Florida’s recent significant deterioration in earnings and risk-adjusted capitalization has been driven by a sharp decline in net premiums written due to nonrenewals, wind mitigation discounts, increased reinsurance costs, rate decreases and the suspension of writing most new homeowners and commercial business.
Crist, who has indicated he leans against signing the measure, has been advised by lawmakers who support it and McCarty who opposes it in the debate over HB1171. Business groups including the Chamber of Commerce have urged Crist to sign the bill, while consumer groups and a group representing domestic insurers have urged him to veto it.