McCarty Hopeful State Farm Exit from Florida Can be Avoided

November 20, 2009

The state’s largest private property insurer may not leave Florida after all, Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty told Gov. Charlie Crist and other members of the Florida Cabinet.

McCarty, repeating what he has told media outlets recently, told the Cabinet he is “cautiously optimistic” that ongoing negotiations with State Farm Florida and State Farm Mutual will result in a settlement that is in the best interests of the insurers, consumers and the overall insurance marketplace.

State Farm announced in January that it wanted to withdraw from the state due to its inability to obtain approval for rate increases. The company submitted a withdrawal plan designed to trigger a two-year process of non-renewing its nearly 1 million policies in the state.

However, the Office of Insurance Regulation has objected to parts of the withdrawal plan and has been in negotiations with the insurer over it for months. McCarty and the OIR have termed the plan “hazardous” to the state and to policyholders, including those insured by the state-backed Citizens Property Insurance Corp. that takes on property risks private insurers will not.

McCarty told the Cabinet this week that having State Farm’s half billion dollars in capitalization in the marketplace would be better than not having it but said he did not want to jeopardize the negotiations by revealing too much at this time.

“We’d like them to be good neighbors but fair neighbors,” commented Gov. Crist.

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