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By Allen Laman 

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The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) has announced regulations to allow mortgagors the option to purchase private flood insurance on FHA-insured mortgages for properties located in Special Flood Hazard Areas.

Beginning Dec. 21, the FHA will allow mortgagors to purchase private flood insurance in satisfaction with the mandatory purchase requirement of the Flood Disaster Protection Act of 1973.

“We know borrowers face affordability challenges right now, yet a flood can be devastating to a family who is not properly insured,” Julia Gordon, federal housing commissioner, said in an FHA press release. “The choice to select a private flood insurance option may enable some borrowers to obtain policies that are less expensive or provide enhanced coverage.”

The FHA requires insured mortgages for properties in Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)-designated SFHAs to have flood insurance. Previously, only flood insurance obtained through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) was permissible for FHA-insured mortgages – which limited choices for consumers.

Advocates have long argued opening SFHA’s to private insurers would increase affordability and options for buyers. When commenting during the rulemaking process, some said private flood insurance gives more individuals and families the opportunity to own or refinance homes, along with the ability to save money.

“Home buyers across the nation will benefit from this long-awaited rule,” said Craig Poulton, CEO of Salt Lake City-based Poulton Associates, which sells its own type of flood and catastrophe insurance.

Poulton highlighted the timing of the amended rule’s debut. He explained that had it been approved, say, six years ago, when a separate rule calling for lenders to accept private market flood policies was implemented, it would have had a greater practical benefit for mortgagors. More people were building and buying homes at that time, whereas the housing market is now in a severe slump.

The now-approved changes were formally proposed in November 2020.

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As of Sept. 30, 2021, the FHA had active insurance on more than 7.8 million single-family forward and reverse mortgages, with a total unpaid principal balance of more than $1.2 trillion.

“We are grateful that the FHA has finally decided that accepting private flood insurance is just as wise as accepting private homeowners’ insurance,” Poulton said. “We wish it had not taken them so long.”

Per the press release, ensuring that borrowers are protected against flood risk is a key component of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Climate Action Plan.

TOPICS CARRIERS FLOOD

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‘Stronger Than the Surge:’ Florida Businesses, Residents Rebuilding after Ian

November 21, 2022

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For Sara Lee Brinks, Ian was the first hurricane she’s ever experienced.

Originally from Michigan, the owner of Pine Island’s Frozen Flip Flop said that at first, she wasn’t worried about Ian, but it proved to be unlike anything she’s ever been through.

After checking in on her shop, Brinks is now working towards getting herself, and her community, back to normal.

Like Brinks, several Pine Island residents, businesses and officials are on a mission back to normalcy, aiming to rebuild better a little more than a month after the storm.

Pine Island suffered immense damage from the Category 4 storm, ripping up trees, telephone poles and roofs, as well as demolishing homes and businesses.

From Bokeelia to St. James City, inhabitants of the 17-mile-long unincorporated island have worked tirelessly in the weeks since Sept. 28 to clear debris from their properties and begin restoration efforts. The island has restored power and water.

While Ian’s 155 mph winds and nearly 12-foot storm surge tore through and left physical scars on the area, there was no damage to the island’s sense of community and spirit. From delivering meals to first responders to planning events to raise funds for those in need, Pine Islanders have stepped up to help one another on the road to recovery.

Progress after one month-plus

For Pine Island Chamber of Commerce Board member Cynthia Welch, the recovery process has been “ongoing but incredible to watch.”

“Just from the initial clearing of our roads before we even have had a bridge, our islanders were doing all that so that by the time we did get our road back, (Lee County Electric Cooperative) and their cohorts that they brought out could actually get out here and get started,” Welch said. “That was a huge step in the right direction right from the get-go. A lot of people kind of forget that . our roads were clear before we ever had any help from anybody outside.”

After Ian’s hit, Welch describes the devastation as mind-blowing, saying it was hard to look at initially. However, she applauds the strength of the community for banding together.

Now just over a month later, it is their strength that has allowed Pine Island to recover as quickly as it has.

“Most of our businesses are back open in some level or another and are functioning,” Welch said, with more than half of their over 200 members back and running. “People are going about their daily lives and cleaning up and picking up and getting their roofs fixed and their siding and all the other stuff. It’s incredible in just a month to see the difference.”

Through all of the tragedy and destruction, Welch said there has been no shortage of neighbors helping neighbors and terrific people coming out to support the community.

“From the linemen that come from God knows where to the volunteers who that have come out to help, the people who have donated stuff to help those who have lost everything . the hot meals were a godsend for everybody when you’re trying to do everything else,” Welch said. “All that stuff just restores your faith that good people are out there and then when push comes to shove, people band together to help each other out.”

Businesses reopen, give back after Ian

Brink had just opened her frozen yogurt shop, located along the middle of Stringfellow Road, in July of this year.

She said she joined the Pine Island community permanently in 2020, opening her shop two years later after polling locals to see what they wanted.

“During high season, we can’t get off island, that road is just all jammed up. The only two answers I got was coffee and ice cream,” Brink said. “In thinking that type 2 diabetes is rampant around here, I thought that frozen yogurt is lower in fat and sugar, so I thought frozen yogurt would be a good idea.”

When she learned about Ian’s impending path towards Southwest Florida, she said she honestly wasn’t nervous at all. She did pack a bag to head back to her native Michigan, yet decided to stay after hearing reassurance from neighbors and customers.

“When (neighbors) invited me down there (to shelter), it felt very safe until the surge and then we made a run for it to the neighboring stilt house in the surge,” Brinks said. “And then I got sick because of the floodwaters. I remember shivering it was so cold that night. When we came back through the floodwaters to the original house we all got sick.”

Coming out the next day and seeing the damage to her newly found community was “heartbreaking.” Fortunately, her yogurt shop received little to no damage.

Over three weeks, she only reopened for one day, giving out ice cream to first responders and residents. Now, she’s fully back open again.

Just a few yards away, fellow newcomer to Pine Island’s restaurant scene, Fine Swine owner Brian Crowley, wasn’t as lucky with hurricane damage.

His restaurant, opened this past January, experienced some roof and floor damage, as well as some of their ventilation system being blown off the roof. His food truck was also moved ten feet away from where it’s normally parked on their lot.

Yet, Crowley said he feels fortunate compared to his neighbors.

“I was kind of happy that it was in the condition it was in because we came by boat first, because there was no road, the first thing we saw were the houses and our community down in St. James City . it was just mangled,” Crowley said. “So many people lost so much. There’s people that lost literally everything. Those are the people that we’re trying to help out.”

Working out of the food truck after it was repositioned, Crowley was back to serving meals to the community on Nov. 2.

“We’ve had a really, really good response . people just come in and talk to each other and hang out. We got beer on the patio, So you can hang out on the patio,” Crowley said. “We can’t open inside yet but you can at least get a cold beer and hang out and talk to your neighbors.”

The Fine Swine even held a hurricane benefit concert to rebuild Pine Island in the parking lot of his restaurant Oct. 16. He estimates he has served over 1,200 meals to residents and first responders.

Damage in St. James City

Beyond the heart of Pine Island, other parts of the island were completely decimated by Ian.

On the southern tip, the famous fishing town of St. James City is normally home to several eclectic restaurants, shops, and art galleries.

As of now, a tragic mix of debris and dirt lines Stringfellow Road and the town’s surrounding streets, as if a bomb went off within the middle of the city.

The Low Key Tiki was one of the storms victims. Beloved by not just the Pine Island community but by those all over the world, the restaurant has captured the hearts of patrons for decades.

Following Ian, the restaurant suffered damage from three feet of flooding, losing all of the equipment in their main kitchen.

Despite the damage, owner Johnnie Smith said he and his staff reopened soon after and were serving meals to residents since “day one” after the storm hit.

The Low Key Tiki is currently in the process of being rethatched, expecting to close starting Nov. 8 for the repairs.

“Stronger than the surge”

The road to recovery is a long one for Pine Island, yet is being made faster by the dedication of locals.

For residents who have experienced the unimageable over the past month, Brinks said they’ve appreciated the hint of normalcy.

“Everybody is so supportive. People come in here and when they walk in, they say, `Oh my gosh, we needed this, it feels like nothing ever happened,”’ Brinks said. “Or they’ll come in and cry. All they need are hugs or they’ll come in and just sit and vent. And then they will thank me for letting them vent because they just have to get it out.”

Brinks and Crowley are continuing to provide aid and join in on events to help recovery efforts. Brinks said she is preparing her shop to start serving hot breakfast for residents, while Crowley plans to serve meals at a Pine Island benefit in the works for Nov. 19.

As for the chamber, Wells said their next steps are collecting responses from their correspondence to all their members, noting when businesses expect to be open. While some businesses are already reopen, they expect others, specifically in St. James City and Matlacha, to take awhile before opening their doors.

From there, they will plan to do local ad campaign in the coming months to encourage locals to do day trips to the island. As of now, they aren’t exactly recommending traveling.

“We’re not discouraging anyone from coming out right now, but neither are we really encouraging everybody because we’ve still got a lot of work to do,” Welch said.

Welch does encourage the slogan of “Stronger than the Surge,” promoting the positive spirit of the islanders.

“There’s so many heartbreaking stories of people who have lost everything . their homes and their businesses, then you talk to them, and they have such a positive attitude about rebuilding and moving forward,” Welch said “So I think it’s the attitude of everybody (that sticks with me).”

This article originally appeared in the Fort Myers News-Press.

Photo: A home on Pine Island after Hurricane Ian. (Scott Clause/The News-Press via AP)

Copyright 2022 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

By Jim Sams 

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The Florida Bar is seeking sanctions against a partner with a prominent New Orleans area law firm, alleging that she used deceptive tactics to solicit clients after Hurricane Ian.

The bar on Thursday filed a petition with the Florida Supreme Court asking for an emergency suspension of the law licensed issued to Jennifer Perez, a partner with Gauthier, Murphy & Houghtaling. The Bar’s pleading states that GM&H parked a truck in the parking lot of the Riverview Inn, a closed motel in North Fort Meyers, and staffed it with a “non-lawyer” who admitted to investigators that it was “generally misperceived” as belonging to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

FEMA had been participating in an “insurance village” that the Florida Department of Financial Services set up in Fort Meyers and Port Charlotte to assist hurricane victims. No attorneys are allowed in those centers.

Jennifer Perez

“Information about the Louisiana law firm was deliberately obscured on respondent’s ‘Mobile Claim Center’ to create the impression that the truck is part of FEMA or the state-run insurance village, giving the Louisiana law firm the opportunity to solicit hurricane victims,” the petition says.

The Bar’s petition includes a photo of what appears to be a fifth-wheel trailer (although it is described as a truck) and an attached air-conditioned tent. A sheet of black plastic covers the name of the law firm, but does not obscure the firm’s Louisiana telephone number.

“The Louisiana law firm website deliberately includes the defunct motel address to create the impression that it has a bona fide law office in Florida,” the petition says.

The petition includes affidavits by staff investigators Karen Brown and John Berrena.

Berrena said when he visited the site on Oct. 18 he encountered a man who identified himself as Sergio Alvardo, who is not an attorney or paralegal. Alvarado told Berrena that people who walked into the tent thought it was a FEMA center. When asked if there were any attorneys on site, Alvarado identified John Houghtaling, a partner in the law firm who has an office in Metairie, Louisiana, the affidavit says.

Sponsored by Florida Surplus Lines Service Office (FSLSO)

Houghtaling may be best known to readers of the Claims Journal as the attorney who filed the first-ever lawsuit seeking coverage for business-interruption losses caused by COVID-19. He won a rare appellate court victory in favor of his client, a New Orleans seafood restaurant.

Berrena said he called Houghtaling’s office and spoke with a paralegal who told him that Perez was the law firm’s Florida attorney.

According to the law firm’s website, Perez received her Juris Doctor in 2018 from Loyola University in New Orleans. She admitted to the Florida Bar in May 2020.

Brown’s affidavit says the GM&H law firm’s website lists the the Riverview Inn as Perez’s address. A sign on the door of the motel says it is “close.” Brown said the paralegal told her that Brown works from a virtual office.

The Bar’s pleading says that Perez violated six Rules of Professional Conduct that require attorney supervision of any non-lawyer assistants, bar the unlicensed practice of law, prohibit the direct solicitation of clients and prohibit misleading statements.

The Bar asks the Supreme Court to immediately suspend Perez’s license, bar her from contracting with any new clients, cease disbursing or withdrawing any money from trust accounts and stop accepting any legal fees.

Neither Perez nor Houghtaling could be reached for comment on Friday.

Top photo: This screen shot, taken from the Florida Bar’s petition to suspend Jennifer Perez’s law license, shows the truck or trailer that was set up outside the Riverview Inn in North Fort Meyers.

  – Author: Matt Sheehan

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US primary insurer Allstate has announced that it increased auto rates by 14.0% across 15 locations during the month of October in response to inflationary increases to loss costs.

Jess Merten, Chief Financial Officer at Allstate, said that this move would result in total brand premium impact of 1.3%.

Rate increases for Allstate brand auto insurance since the beginning of the year have resulted in a premium impact of 12.1%, generating increases of $307 million in the month of October and $2.9 billion year-to-date.

Allstate reported a net loss of $694 million for the third quarter of 2022, compared to a net  income of $508 million in the prior year quarter, primarily due to an underwriting loss and equity valuation declines.

This was despite recovering 45% of its $671 million loss from Hurricane Ian, and with catastrophe losses being below its reporting threshold for October.

Stratumn, by SIA Partners

This has since led to Fitch Ratings downgrading its outlook on Allstate from stable to negative.

Allstate’s total revenues for Q3 increased by 5.8% to $13.2 billion, reflecting a 9.8% increase in Property-Liability earned premium, partially offset by net losses on investments and derivatives in 2022 compared to net gains in 2021 and lower net investment income.

Additionally, Property-Liability earned premium of $11.2 billion increased 9.8% in the quarter compared to the same period last year. Allstate noted that this was driven primarily by higher average premiums and policies in force growth.

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Citizens Property Insurance Corp. has released its first estimate on losses from Hurricane Nicole, a category 1 storm that hit Florida’s east coast Nov. 10.

Modeled losses plus loss adjustment expenses – but not including anticipated litigation costs – will come to about $63 million, a spokesman for the state-created insurer said. Some 1,679 claims have been filed so far with Citizens and officials expect as many as 5,000 altogether.

For all carriers, the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation has reported 7,212 claims, through Monday, with an estimated insured loss of $72 million for Nicole, so far. The largest number of claims have come from Brevard County, home to Cocoa Beach and Cape Canaveral. But Volusia County, just to the north, may see the greatest dollar amount of losses. County officials there have estimated some $522 million in damages, and a number of beachfront homes collapsed into the sea.

Computer models have projected that the total insured losses from Nicole will range from $750 million to less than $2 billion.

Photo: Wilbur-By-The-Sea, in Volusia County. (AP)

By Insurance Journal Staff Reports 

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Current and former Board members at Florida’s largest homeowners’ association were arrested Tuesday, charged with taking millions of dollars from the association over several years.

It’s the latest development in a drama that last year saw the arrest of the Hammocks Community Association former president, Marglli Gallego, the Miami Herald newspaper reported. Disgruntled owners at the 25,000-resident association in southwest Miami have said for years that the organization has been run like a “mafia,” with fraud, huge increases in fees, a depleted treasury and a lack of maintenance on properties, according to news reports, Facebook postings and court records.

On Tuesday, the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office said it had charged five current and former association board members with racketeering violations, grand theft, money laundering and fabricating evidence. The defendants include Gallego’s husband, Jose Antonio Gonzalez, 45, who is accused of creating two vendor companies that gleaned more than $1.2 million in association funds. Also charged are the current president, Monica Isabel Ghilardi, 52; Myriam Arango Rodgers, 76; and Yoleidis Lopez Garcia, 47, prosecutors said.

A spokesman for The Hammocks Preservation Society, made up of homeowners who have raised awareness about the board members’ alleged abuses, told Insurance Journal that unit owners have seen few insurance repercussions from the turmoil, so far. But Miami-area insurance agents said that policies would likely come into play at some point, including directors and officers coverage for board members. Carriers may also elect to non-renew policies because of the turmoil, or could cancel coverage if it’s shown that board members provided false information when applying for coverage.

The Society’s Facebook page urges supporters to show up at a hearing set for Thursday, Nov. 17, at the Miami-Dade Courthouse, part of a civil lawsuit against board members.

“We’ve had the misfortune of having a seriously corrupt board aggressively ripping off the association in every way possible since 2015,” Society member Fernando Blanco said in an email. “Some of us have tried to make the community aware of the problems, and after much struggle we’ve found the only way to stop them.”

Fernandez Rundle

At a news conference Tuesday afternoon, posted on the state attorney’s website, Miami’s chief prosecutor explained the charges against the board members.

“Racketeering and money laundering are terms we usually associate with drug cartels, drug transactions, organized crime or large-scale international bribery schemes,” State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said. “Never would anyone have connected these terms to a south Florida homeowners association.”

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She said the arrests conclude the initial phase of a lengthy investigation, but that other arrests may be on the way.

Prosecutors and homeowners have alleged that the association officials diverted much of the association funds to their personal use. In April 2021, then-president Gallego was charged with using an HOA credit card for personal items, including restaurants and bakeries. Her trial is pending. Tuesday, she was charged with the racketeering, theft and other charges. She faces decades in prison if convicted, Fernandez Rundle said.

Please call  Lee from  USAsurance Powered by WeInsure. 954-270-7966 or 833-USAssure at the office. My email is lee@myUSAssurance.com . I am Your Insurance Consultant  about Home Insurance, Auto, Flood, Private Flood, Car, Life Insurance, Mortgage protection, Financial Products, Business  & Commercial Policies, & Group Products for business owners to give Employees benefits at no cost to the employer.

Damages are estimated at more than $522 million in a central Florida coastal county where homes collapsed into the Atlantic Ocean following Hurricane Nicole last week.

The damages from the category 1 storm in Volusia County, home to Daytona Beach, exceeded those from the much stronger Hurricane Ian, which caused $377 million in the county, officials said. Hurricane Ian, a category 4 storm, made landfall in southwest Florida in late September and tore across the state.

Moody’s Investors Service estimated insured losses from Ian at between $40 billion and $70 billion in Florida and North Carolina. There were 137 deaths attributed to Ian, a state medical examiners board reported Monday. CoreLogic property analytics firm has projected that total insured losses from Nicole will come to about $750 million.

Severe beach erosion from Ian made homes vulnerable to the impact of Nicole in Wilbur-by-the Sea, a quaint beach community where single-family homes fell into the ocean last week. Volusia County officials said that 29 single-family homes in Wilbur-by-the-Sea had damage and that 17 were deemed unsafe following Hurricane Nicole. Additionally, seven single-family homes in nearby Ponce Inlet and three homes in New Smyrna Beach were deemed unsafe by inspectors.

In Daytona Beach Shores and New Smyrna Beach, two dozen multistory condo buildings have been evacuated and deemed unsafe by building inspectors. However, building inspectors said that another seven condo buildings that had been considered dangerous after the storm were found to be safe Monday and residents were allowed to return.

Daytona Beach Shore by far had the most property damage in the county, estimated at $370.3 million, according to the Volusia County Property Appraiser. It was followed by New Smyrna Beach at $51.1 million and Daytona Beach at $50 million.

The property appraiser’s office warned that those figures would likely rise as more buildings are inspected.

For storm-weary Floridians, Nicole was the first November hurricane to hit their shores since 1985 and only the third since record-keeping began in 1853.

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The storm was blamed for five deaths in Florida. A man and a woman were killed by electrocution when they touched downed power lines in the Orlando area. Also in Orange County, one man died in a vehicle crash, and a male pedestrian was struck and killed by a vehicle because of poor road conditions. Another man died as waves battered his yacht against a dock in Cocoa, despite efforts to resuscitate him by paramedics who managed to get on board as the boat broke away from its moorings.

Photo: A home in Wilbur-By-The-Sea, in Volusia County, after Nicole. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

Copyright 2022 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

By Insurance Journal Staff Reports 

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Florida Citizens’ Revises Ian Loss Estimate to $3.8B, Including Litigation Expenses

By Insurance Journal Staff Reports | November 15, 2022

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Direct losses, litigation and other expenses from Hurricane Ian will reach $3.8 billion for Florida’s Citizens Property Insurance Corp., but that’s still below the threshold that would trigger an assessment on policyholders, officials said Tuesday.

The $3.8 billion loss level is about what Citizens’ leadership projected one day after category 4 Ian made landfall on Florida’s southwest flank Sept. 28. But the figure was revised to less than $2.6 billion a few days later, based on one hurricane computer model.

Now, utilizing a second model and including loss adjustment expenses, an expected wave of claims litigation, and actual claims so far, the corporation has bumped the cost estimates back up. Citizens did not yet have a breakdown on how much of the figure would be due to litigation costs.

So far, Citizens’ policyholders have filed some 55,843 claims from Ian damage and another 45,000 are expected, communications director Michael Peltier said.

Hurricane Nicole, which proved to be a relatively mild category 1 storm on Florida’s east coast last week, has so far resulted in 1,431 Citizens’ claims. An estimated dollar amount of losses from Nicole was not available Tuesday morning, but Peltier said most claims so far are of relatively low severity – level 1 or 2 out of 5.

The state-created Citizens, now with about 1.1 million policies in force, is the largest property insurer in Florida. The carrier can place a significant surcharge on its policyholders, then on all Florida policyholders, if losses exceed surplus levels. But the recent hurricane claims are not expected to reach that point, Peltier said.

Citizens has three separate accounts, each with its own trigger point. For the coastal policies account, based on pre-Ian surplus levels, losses and loss adjustment expenses would have to top $6 billion. For the personal lines account, the surcharge would kick in after about $4.7 billion in losses, according to corporation information. But the insurer also is supported by reinsurance from the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund and from private reinsurers.

“Of the $3.8 billion direct losses and loss adjustment expenses, the revised projection (from Ian) anticipates that $1.4 billion will be ceded to the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund and private reinsurance,” Citizens said in a statement Tuesday. “The catastrophe bonds Citizens has in place are not expected to be triggered. After the consideration of this reinsurance, the net impact to Citizens’ surplus is $2.4 billion.”

Sponsored by Florida Surplus Lines Service Office (FSLSO)

Fitch Ratings, a bond and credit rating firm, said that losses from Hurricane Ian and from Nicole could contribute to the need for Citizens to borrow more funds in coming years. Without an assessment on policyholders, Citizens and the FHCF “will have exhausted much of their liquidity, leaving them more likely to have to borrow in the future to rebuild liquidity,” the rating firm said in a posting Nov. 11.

Montero

Citizens’ officials said that the projected losses from the recent storms will take several years to mature, and more will be known after three months of claim activity.

“We will continue to update the market and other stakeholders as we gather additional information from actual losses,” Citizens’ chief financial officer, Jennifer Montero, said in a statement.

Industry-wide, more than 622,692 claims had been filed from Hurricane Ian by Nov. 9, with insured losses estimated at $8.7 billion, the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation reported. For Nicole, some 7,212 claims had been filed by this week, with projected insured losses of $72 million.

TOPICS LAWSUITS FLORIDA PROFIT LOSS

By William Rabb

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The parent company of United Property & Casualty Co., already working to close up shop in Florida and other states after years of financial setbacks, reported a $173 million net loss for the third quarter of this year.

The publicly traded, Florida-based United Insurance Holdings Corp. also said its combined ratio was 165% for Q3, almost half again as high as the ratio reported at this time last year.

The negative numbers were not unexpected from United P&C, which announced in August that it would non-renew personal lines in Florida and other states and had placed itself in an orderly runoff. That came after a buyer for the troubled insurer could not be found.

The latest quarterly report and an earnings call last week offered new information about how red the ink has been at what was once one of Florida’s larger personal-lines property carriers, and about UPC’s near-term future.

CEO Dan Peed

“During the third quarter we made the difficult decision to withdraw United Property & Casualty Insurance Co. from the personal lines business in the states of Florida, Louisiana and Texas.,” CEO Dan Peed said in a statement. “While Interboro Insurance Co. will continue to write personal lines business in the state of New York, the withdrawal allows us to focus our capacity on our commercial residential business written by American Coastal Insurance Co.”

Interboro and American Coastal are UPC companies.

“Our withdrawal plan will generally begin with non-renewals on January 1, 2023,” Peed added.

The company noted in a presentation to investors that it continues to have the largest market share of commercial residential property insurance in Florida, with some 5,500 policies and $488 million of premium in force. “American Coastal provides the state of Florida stable capacity that is desperately needed in the condominium market,” the company said.

For all lines, UPC had 147,520 policies in force at the end of September, down almost 26% from the end of 2021. UPC has received more than 23,000 claims from Hurricane Ian, which struck Florida Sept. 28-29. The Nov. 9 earnings call came one day before Hurricane Nicole hit Florida’s east coast, and did not report anticipated claims.

UPC was founded in 1999 and is headquartered in St. Petersburg, Florida. Late last year, the company suspended new homeowners business in Florida. This year, parent company undertook a major restructuring effort, consolidating four subsidiaries into two.

HCI, Heritage Also Report Q3 Losses(AP) — HCI Group Inc. (HCI) on Tuesday reported a loss of $51 million in its third quarter. On a per-share basis, the Tampa-based company said it had a loss of $5.66. Losses, adjusted for investment costs, came to $5.62 per share.The property and casualty insurance holding company posted revenue of $126.7 million in the period.Heritage Insurance Holdings Inc. (HRTG) on Tuesday reported a loss of $48.2 million in its third quarter. The Tampa company said it had a loss of $1.83 per share.The firm posted revenue of $165.5 million in the period.

The moves came after heavy underwriting losses in recent years. Since 2018, the last year that UPC showed a profit, losses have totaled more than $258 million, according to financial statements. Q3 of this year was three times larger than the annual loss for 2021.

Last summer, the carrier took several steps to improve its bottom line. In June, UPC announced it had merged one subsidiary, Family Security Insurance, into UPC. Family Security held 1.84% of the Florida market at the end of 2021, the AM Best financial rating firm reported.

In July, the Demotech financial rating firm downgraded UPC’s financial strength rating. About that same time, UPC said it was exploring a range of options, including potential sale or merger with another insurer.

Peed said the downgrade by Demotech and by the KBRA bond-rating firm hurt the company’s financial standing.

“These impact(ed) our renewal retention levels and therefore, gross written premium and grow starting premium,” he said on the earnings call.

Peed also noted that the increase in reinsurance cost was a significant factor behind the financial losses. A transcript of the earnings call can be seen here. The company presentation is here.

UIHC shares closed last week at 32 cents. The stock has declined steadily in the last four years, from a high of $32 in 2018, according to Yahoo! Finance.

Some Good Legal News for UPC: Judge Tosses Racketeering Lawsuit

By Staff and Wire Reports 

Please call  Lee from  USAsurance Powered by WeInsure. 954-270-7966 or 833-USAssure at the office. My email is lee@myUSAssurance.com . I am Your Insurance Consultant  about Home Insurance, Auto, Flood, Private Flood, Car, Life Insurance, Mortgage protection, Financial Products, Business  & Commercial Policies, & Group Products for business owners to give Employees benefits at no cost to the employer.

Insured losses from Hurricane Nicole, a category 1 storm that came ashore on Florida’s east coast last week, will be no more than $750 million, a fraction of the level of losses caused by Hurricane Ian six weeks earlier, CoreLogic predicted, based on its computer models.

The property analytics firm has said Ian, which made landfall north of Fort Myers on Florida’s southwest coast Sept. 28, could reach as much as $51 billion in insured losses. Other estimates have put the total as high as $60 billion. CoreLogic’s model for Nicole includes losses from winds and storm surge, but not increased costs due to assignment-of-benefits agreements, the company said.

Many in the Florida insurance industry had feared that Nicole would be a staggering blow for some carriers, coming so soon after Ian and in the midst of a besieged property insurance market. But news reports from across the state’s eastern flank indicate that most of the damage was from storm surge at beach areas, not from the storm’s 75-mph winds.

“We anticipate insured property losses will be minimal from Hurricane Nicole. It was primarily a flood/storm surge event, with minimal windstorm damage and should not significantly impact Florida residential insurers,” said Mark Friedlander, director of communications for the Insurance Information Institute. “Hopefully, storm victims were financially protected with flood insurance from either the National Flood Insurance Program or private flood insurers.”

The eye of Nicole passed directly over Vero Beach, where longtime insurance agent and consultant David Thompson lives.

“I’ve been through a lot of hurricanes, but I’ve never had the eye come right over us,” he said.

Thompson

Thompson’s home did not lose power and sustained no damage, though. “We are very fortunate,” he said.

To the north, agents and news outlets reported more damage, including some beachfront homes that partially collapsed into the sea.

At Wilbur-by-the-Sea, south of Daytona Beach, workers tried to stabilize remaining sections of land with rocks and dirt. It was too late for some, though: The front of one house laid on the sand, where it was sheared away from the rest of the structure.

Parts of otherwise intact buildings hung over cliffs of sand carved by pounding waves that covered the normally wide beach. Dozens of hotel and condominium towers as tall as 22 stories were declared uninhabitable in Daytona Beach Shores and New Smyrna Beach after seawater undercut their foundations. Just six weeks ago, Hurricane Ian caused an initial round of damage – which contributed to the problems from Nicole.

Retired health care worker Cindy Tyler, who lived in a seven-story condominium tower that was closed because of the storm, had a hard time coping with the idea of never being able to return to her building.

“I think right now I’m just in a state of hanging in there,” said Tyler, who was forced to evacuate with her husband and a few belongings. “I’m not believing I’m not going to be able to get back into my place. I’m trying to be very hopeful and very optimistic.”

Tenants in Tyler’s building spent $240,000 replacing a protective barrier that was battered by Ian, but the new fortification was no match for Nicole.

“Temporary seawall? Mother Nature said, `Hold my beer,”’ she said.

Wilbur-By-The-Sea (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

Restoring Daytona Beach – famous for its drivable beach – and nearby coastlines will likely require a major, multimillion-dollar sand renourishment project and improved sea walls to protect property, said Stephen Leatherman, director of the Laboratory for Coastal Research at Florida International University.

“It was known worldwide for driving on the beach,” said Leatherman, known as “Dr. Beach” for his annual ranking of U.S. beaches. “They don’t even have a beach to think about right now.”

One 15-mile stretch of the coast was severely eroded, with multiple seawalls destroyed. Much of the destruction was blamed on unrepaired seawalls bashed during Ian, which killed more than 130 people and destroying thousands of homes.

Volusia County officials said it wasn’t clear when people might be able to sunbathe next to their cars and pickup trucks on the beaches again.

“Assessments have begun and will be ongoing as we have 47 miles of beach,” county spokesman David Hunt said.

Five deaths resulted from Nicole, the first November hurricane in Florida in four decades. Fewer than 15,000 homes and businesses were without power across Florida by late Friday afternoon, down from a high of more than 330,000. No major disruptions were reported up the Eastern Seaboard, according to a tracking website.

As Nicole’s leftovers pushed northward, forecasters issued multiple tornado warnings in the Carolinas and Virginia, although no touchdowns were reported immediately. In south Georgia, Keith Post tried to clean up the damage at a coastal submarine museum that was submerged by floodwaters.

“At one point it was up to my knees,” said Post, whose St. Marys Submarine Museum sits on the river that forms the Georgia-Florida line at the Atlantic coast. “From the front of the museum looking across to Florida, you did not see any green. It was all water.”

Downgraded to a depression, Nicole was expected to dump as much as 8 inches of rain over the Blue Ridge Mountains, forecasters said, and there was a chance of flash and urban flooding as far north as New England.

Auto accidents added to Atlanta’s notoriously bad traffic as rain from Nicole fell across the metro area during rush hour, and a few school systems in mountainous north Georgia canceled classes.

Top photo: Beachfront homes damaged after the beach was eroded away by Hurricane Nicole’s waves in Wilbur-By-The-Sea, Florida. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

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