MANATEE -- At a time when state legislators have filed bills in attempts to halt state-run Citizens Property Insurance from excessive annual rate increases, Liberty Mutual Insurance is no longer accepting Manatee County applicants for homeowner's insurance policies.
"We currently do not have capacity to accept new homeowners' business in Manatee County," said Glenn Greenberg, senior consultant for public and media relations for Liberty Mutual. "We are writing property coverage for renters and condos."
Suncoast customers of Liberty Mutual who have lost their policies with Liberty Mutual are among many Floridians who have found the only option left is to turn to the state-sponsored Citizens program, which has been under fire for its increasingly high rates and requirements.
In fact, Citizens is the leading writer of homeowners insurance in the state with more than 1.4 million customers, according to the most recent figures from the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation.
Responding to the ongoing crisis, Rep. Jose Diaz, R-Miami, filed a bill (HB107) Tuesday proposing to limit Citizens' annual increases. An identical bill, SB 96, was filed by Sen. Anitere Flores, R-Miami, in the Senate and referred to committee on Jan. 4.
Although Liberty Mutu
al no longer writes policies in the area, Greenberg said, "Liberty Mutual remains committed to the Florida market. While we don't have the capacity for as much homeowners' business in parts of western Florida due to our concentration of exposures in that area, we do sell homeowner's, condo and tenant insurance in many areas of Florida, and auto insurance throughout the state."
This move away from homeowner's insurance in the Suncoast isn't new.
"Most companies are not writing homeowner's insurance in Manatee County anymore," said Ed Dick, founder of Dick, Johnson and Jefferson Insurance in Bradenton. "They were overexposed. They found a major hurricane was going to cost so much that there are not enough insurance dollars in the world to cover the exposure on the Florida coast."
The situation isn't likely to change soon, unless companies are able to make a profit.
"They would come back if they were able to get the premiums they needed," he said.
Dee Graham, Herald reporter, can be contacted at 941-745-7024.