State Farm pulls out of state for property insurance

WINTER HAVEN -- State Farm, the state’s largest private property insurer, today filed plans to discontinue writing policies for property insurance in Florida.

The company cited its substantially weakened financial position, directly related to its inability to obtain regulatory approval of what it believes to be adequate property insurance rates, according to a company press release. This plan includes insurance coverage for homeowners, renters, condominium unit owners, personal liability, boats, personal articles, and business property and liability policies.

There are 12,857 property insurance policy holders in Manatee County as of Sept. 30. There are 19,714 in Sarasota County. Statewide, there are 933,140 property insurance policies with State Farm.

"Although this is disappointing news for Floridians, who have been loyal customers of State Farm, we are not surprised by State Farm's decision to stop offering all property insurance in Florida," said Kevin McCarthy, the state's insurance commissioner.

"We have been hearing for months of possible plans to make such a move in Florida, including a document submitted to the Office as recently as Dec. 5 as part of their recoupment filing that showed an anticipated reduction to 655,000 HO policies by 2010.

"We will carefully review State Farm's intended plans to ensure that they are in compliance with Florida law; and we will explore all legal options as well," McCarthy said.

This action by State Farm Florida, a subsidiary of State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co., will not affect the availability of State Farm auto insurance for Florida residents – nor the availability of life insurance, health insurance and other financial services offered by agents of State Farm Mutual and its other affiliates, the company announced.

State Farm spokesman Chris Neal said Tuesday that slightly more than a million customers will be affected, but said that none need to worry immediately.

The Illinois-based insurer can’t do anything before completing a regulatory review in 90 days and is then prohibited by law from discontinuing any policy before giving a six-month notice.

Neal said State Farm’s 2.8 million auto customers in the state are not affected by the company’s decision.

In a statement, State Farm said it has been unable to obtain regulatory approval from Florida officials on adequate rates for its property insurance lines.