Fla. insurance boss has ’gut feeling’ State Farm will stay
TREASURE COAST NEWSPAPERS • July 10, 2009
State Farm, the largest private property insurer in Florida, may decide not to leave the state, Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty said Thursday.
“I don’t know that they’re going to stay,” McCarty said. “Part of it is a gut feeling.”
State Farm may be reluctant to give up on a market as big as Florida, McCarty said, and the insurer could find it “very difficult” to maintain auto and other policies without offering property insurance.
McCarty’s optimism was not matched by the insurance company.
State Farm said in January it would exit the property-insurance business in Florida after regulators and an administrative law judge rejected its request to raise rates by up to 67 percent.
The insurer, which has 1.2 million Florida policies covering homes, condominiums, apartments, boats and businesses, had said it might reconsider its decision if Gov. Charlie Crist permitted a sharply contested property insurance bill to become law.
But Crist last month vetoed the bill that would have allowed about 40 of the largest property insurers to charge virtually any price for policies with hurricane coverage.
State Farm hopes for an override of the veto, McCarty said. That would require a special session of the legislature this year, which is considered unlikely.
State Farm spokeswoman Michal Connolly said the insurer still plans to leave the property-insurance business in Florida within two years.
“We really don’t have any other choice, with the financial picture we’re facing,” Connolly said. The insurance company has said it will become financially insolvent in a few years if it doesn’t drop its property insurance policies in Florida.