Farmers Insurance is no longer willing to offer insurance in the state of Florida. The national insurer is withdrawing 100,000 policies in the state just in time for the arrival of hurricane season, including both home and automotive policies, as CNN reports. This is going to leave thousands of Florida drivers without auto insurance at a time when they may need it most, and force them to find policies elsewhere.
The state of Florida requires insurance agencies to notify policyholders 120 days prior to canceling their coverage, but there’s no word on how this all will affect ongoing claims. Farmers reportedly calls this a “business decision,” per CNN, adding that the company is trying to “manage its risk exposure in the hurricane-prone state.” A spokesperson went on to say the company’s smaller insurance subsidiaries, like Foremost Signature and Bristol West, will continue to sell auto insurance in Florida.
But it’s funny how business decisions don’t apply to the company’s decision to start taking on premiums for Florida policies in the first place. But, I guess, if corporations are people, then they should be able to change their mind or rescind said “business decisions” en masse — whether or not it negatively affects thousands of customers who were holding up their end of the deal.
It’s not like Farmers is the only major insurer to withdraw from Florida, however, or as if it’s the only insurer trying to minimize its presence in the state. As CNN reports, many major insurance companies have voluntarily withdrawn from Florida in the wake of last year’s storms. Hurricane Ian caused $114 billion in damage, making it “the most expensive storm to ever hit the state,” per CNN and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
In the 18 months that have followed Hurricane Ian’s landfall in Florida, 15 companies have declined to insure homes in the state and four insurance carriers left Florida outright. The so-called “business decision” makes sense, but it’s just a reminder that the house always wins. That is, insurance companies — be they home or auto policy providers — will always weigh their profits against their risks when it comes to insuring wholesale regions and states. At the very least, NOAA says this upcoming hurricane season ought to be “normal” — with a 30 percent chance that it could be above normal being tied with a 30 percent chance of fewer hurricanes. So, it’s possible that those left without car insurance might not need it, but better to be safe than sorry.
Based in New York, Stephen Freeman is a Senior Editor at Trending Insurance News. Previously he has worked for Forbes and The Huffington Post. Steven is a graduate of Risk Management at the University of New York.