Wednesday, December 7th, 2022

May the Ukraine Disaster Transfer Florida to Repair Its Insurance coverage Disaster?

With the March 11 scheduled shut of its common session quick approaching, the Florida Legislature stays so targeted on placing the ending touches on its numerous culture-war signaling payments that one would possibly suppose Tallahassee hasn’t seen that the state’s property insurance coverage market is quickly hurtling towards utter collapse.

The causes are multi-pronged: a uniquely difficult set of disaster dangers, all more and more magnified by the mixture of fast growth and local weather change; a litigation setting through which claims disputes drag on years past the occasions that initiated them; a reputed epidemic of questionable claims, many associated to roofs; and a main market that, greater than a decade previous its final main disaster, stays far too reliant on thinly capitalized home corporations with inadequate geographic diversification.

All of that is, as they are saying, coming to a head. The most recent in a sequence of regarding indicators got here with the Feb. 25 order by Circuit Choose Angela Dempsey appointing the Florida Division of Monetary Providers as receiver for the Orlando-based St. Johns Insurance coverage Co., which Insurance coverage Commissioner David Altmaier had deemed bancrupt. Dempsey subsequently issued a Feb. 28 order approving the switch of 147,000 St. Johns insurance policies to Slide Insurance coverage Co.

St. Johns provides to the rising checklist of current liquidations of Florida property insurers. The division final yr ordered liquidations of each Gulfstream Property and Casualty Insurance coverage Co. and American Capital Assurance Co. And several other different home writers equally evince indicators of teetering on the point of insolvency:

  • Because it beforehand did with St. Johns, rankings company Demotech has pulled the ranking for Avatar Property & Casualty Insurance coverage Co.
  • Tampa-based Lighthouse Property Insurance coverage Corp. has ceased writing new Florida enterprise, only a month after it had raised $65 million to recapitalize.
  • Whereas not but pulling again on underwriting, Clearwater-based Southern Constancy Insurance coverage Co. is in search of fee will increase of 85% and 111%, with CEO Bryon Wells warning that: “With out these will increase we must have substantial quantities of capital.”
  • Florida Farm Bureau Insurance coverage has ceased writing new householders enterprise.
  • Deerfield Seashore-based Individuals’s Belief Insurance coverage has ceased writing new enterprise in eight South Florida and Central Florida counties.

TypTap Insurance coverage Group, a house and flood-focused insurtech subsidiary of Tampa-based HCI Group, had been planning an preliminary public providing this yr. That plan was scuttled in January, with the corporate citing unfavorable market situations. TypTap has now likewise ceased writing new enterprise within the state.

The ominous indicators don’t finish there. Progressive Insurance coverage is non-renewing 56,000 Florida insurance policies protecting properties with roofs which can be greater than 15 years previous. And United Insurance coverage Holdings Corp.—the ninth largest householders insurer in Florida—introduced final month that it additionally had ceased writing new householders enterprise within the state as of Jan. 1.

Given these cascading dominoes, one’s concern should flip to Residents Property Insurance coverage Corp., Florida’s state-run insurer-of-last-resort. Within the month of January alone, Residents grew by 17,485 insurance policies. Its Jan. 31 rely of 776,790 insurance policies in-force was up 75% from the 443,228 insurance policies that have been in-force Jan. 31, 2020. On the present tempo of development, Residents would prime 1 million insurance policies—a degree it hasn’t seen since January 2014—by the tip of 2022.

Which brings us again to the Legislature, which actually has not given these points the precedence they would appear to advantage. However a pair of property-insurance-reform measures—S.B. 1728 and S.B. 186—have slowly been winding their approach by means of the state Senate, and each share a provision that would achieve some consideration amid the prevailing zeitgeist, even when solely in a restricted approach.

What the payments share is that each would make clear that Residents’ statutory “glidepath” applies solely to an insured’s main residence. Initially carried out in 2009, the glidepath had restricted Residents’ annual premium will increase to 10%. S.B. 76, handed final yr, requires a sequence of gradual will increase within the cap, which was raised to 11% this yr and can proceed to rise by one proportion level annually till finally hitting 15% in 2026.

By limiting the glidepath to main residences, the laws at the moment earlier than the Senate would permit Residents to instantly cost risk-based charges to the various second properties and trip properties at the moment coated by the state-run insurer. The change would serve each to enhance Residents’ monetary place and, on the margin, to discourage some policyholders from turning to Residents who would possibly in any other case have the ability to receive non-public protection.

These embrace, after all, some properties—a lot of them in Miami-Dade and southern Broward County—owned by the very so-called “oligarchs” that the Biden administration and lots of Western governments are at the moment within the means of sanctioning following Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. As is well-known, South Florida has been one of many favored spots for rich Russians over the previous decade or two. Over that point, Sunny Isles Seashore has gained the nickname of “Little Moscow,” whereas spots like tony Fisher Island have equally drawn curiosity from Russian billionaires.

After all, rich Russian nationals (a lot much less the smaller group who might be referred to as “oligarchs”) represent solely a small portion of the non-primary residences at the moment insured by Residents. And eradicating trip properties from the Residents glidepath, whereas actually a step in the precise route, wouldn’t be almost sufficient to repair issues of this magnitude. Happily, the 2 Senate payments don’t cease there.

S.B. 186, sponsored by Sen. Jeff Brandes (R-St. Petersburg), would make a number of adjustments to Residents, together with:

  • Permitting surplus traces insurers (who, notably, don’t take part within the Florida Insurance coverage Warranty Affiliation) to take part in Residents depopulation packages, as long as the insurer’s coverage rely stays above 700,000;
  • Rising the utmost surcharges that may be levied on Residents policyholders within the occasion of a projected deficit to any of its three accounts (private traces, business traces, and coastal accounts), with surcharges rising to twenty% if Residents passes a million insurance policies and 25% if it passes 1.5 million;
  • Requiring {that a} coverage absorbed by Residents from an insurer deemed unsound be assessed the upper of both the previous premium or the premium that Residents would usually assess for that given property; and
  • Offering {that a} residential Residents policyholder just isn’t eligible for renewal if a licensed insurer gives them with a protection supply that’s not more than 20% higher than the Residents renewal premium.

S.B. 1728, sponsored by Senate Banking and Insurance coverage Committee Chair Jim Boyd (R-Bradenton), shares some options with S.B. 186, together with eradicating non-primary residences from the Residents glidepath and disallowing renewals for policyholders who obtain protection gives which can be not more than 20% higher than their Residents premium.

It additionally appears to handle the current explosion of roof claims by permitting insurers to solely cowl the depreciated precise money worth of roofs which can be greater than 10 years previous. Roofs which can be lower than 10 years previous or that have been broken by named hurricanes or in whole loss occasions would nonetheless should be coated for full alternative prices.

The Brandes invoice is at the moment earlier than the Senate Appropriations Committee, having beforehand cleared the Senate Banking and Insurance coverage Committee and an Appropriations subcommittee. Boyd’s invoice has moved one step additional, having cleared each the Insurance coverage and Appropriations committees. It does, nonetheless, probably face challenges within the Legislature’s different chamber, as Home Speaker Chris Sprowls (R-Palm Harbor) has expressed opposition.

So, what does this all should do with Russian oligarchs? Very, little or no. But when that framing will help get this Legislature’s consideration, it’s value a strive.


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