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After years of warnings that the Florida property insurance market was heading towards an availability crisis, many in the industry say the moment of reckoning has arrived. They blame unchecked claims litigation from non-catastrophe water losses and rising reinsurance rates that have severely strained the financials of Florida insurers.

The situation has gone from bad to worse for Florida domestic insurance carriers this year, which together cover most of the state’s homeowners market.

Nearly 60 carriers suffered a combined $701 million in losses and $351 million in negative income for all of 2019, according to Guy Carpenter. In just the first half of 2020, the companies lost more than a half billion ($501 million) in underwriting losses and $227 million of negative net income. Third quarter results are expected to show further deterioration. Guy Carpenter’s data cited an average net combined ratio for 2019 of 111 percent that climbed to 129 percent in the second quarter of 2020 for these companies.

“If we’re not in a crisis, I don’t know what we’re in,” said Kyle Ulrich, president and CEO of the Florida Association of Insurance Agents. “Those numbers … just simply are not sustainable.”

As a result, carriers have been steadily raising rates this year and this trend isn’t expected to slow down any time soon. Companies are requesting and the Florida regulator is approving substantial rate increases – some over 30% – along with taking steps to limit their exposures and protect their books of business.

The vast majority of Florida insurers have filed multiple rate increases this year for just under the 15% threshold that requires a rate hearing by the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation. Since August, four companies – Capitol Preferred Insurance Co., Southern Fidelity Insurance Co., First Community Insurance Co. and Centauri Specialty Insurance Co. – have participated in rate hearings for rate increase requests ranging from 25% to just below 40%.

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