One of the first entities to step forward and provide private flood insurance in Florida has announced it will stop writing new business in the Tampa Bay region in order to manage its exposure.
The Flood Agency, which offers private flood coverage that are backed by the surplus lines insurer Lloyd’s Private Flood, announced the move some nine months after it began offering the coverage.
The Gainesville-based agency’s decision affects Pinellas, Hillsborough, Pasco, Sarasota and Manatee counties. Flood Agency President Evan Hecht told reporters the decision to stop providing new policies in those areas is based on the need to balance Lloyd’s exposure.
“We currently insure more than $250 million of property value,” said Hecht. “Too much of that is in those five counties.”
The Gainesville-based agency, which provides coverage in 24 states, started offering the policies last fall in response to the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012.
At the time, the agency-marketed policies were considered a marked relief from the National Flood Insurance Program, whose policies were due to greatly increase. Additionally, the NFIP was scheduled to end subsidies on homes built before 1974, a move that would effect some 268,000 Florida residents.
The U.S. Congress later approved Biggert-Waters 2013 capping many rate increases while reinstating subsidies. That has slowed the demand for private policies, but state lawmakers and others still believe a private flood market could in time become a viable option to the NFIP.
Holehouse Insurance Agency Vice President Jake Holehouse said the current need for private flood coverage is among secondary homes, rentals and commercial coverage that are still bearing the brunt of NFIP rate increases.
Holehouse said the Flood Agency should be commended for providing private flood insurance at a crucial time. He also said he is optimistic that more private insurers will eventually enter the market.
“They are going to be selective and manage their capacity and exposure,” said Holehouse. “There is also going to be more risk-based rating with more and more emphasis being on properties’ elevation.”
The state’s Office of Insurance Regulation lists the primary insurers providing flood coverage in the state at American Home Assurance Company, American Summit Insurance Company, Chartis Property Casualty Company, Federal Insurance Company, Firemans Fund Insurance Company and Homeowners Choice Property and Casualty Company. Security First Insurance provides coverage through the surplus lines insurer Write Flood.
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