Four years after beginning a concerted effort to leave the Florida homeowners insurance market, Bloomington-based State Farm Insurance is reversing course. The company says it is now writing policies for some homeowners and renters on what it calls a "limited basis." In 2009, State Farm was the largest property insurer in Florida, besides a corporation run by the state. Stinging from huge payouts for damage done by hurricanes and other disasters in the mid-2000s, State Farm sought substantial rate hikes before ultimately pulling back on policies. Reading from a prepared statement, State Farm Florida spokeswoman Michal Brower says the company's only dipping its toes in the Sunshine State market, for now.
"This effort has increased our overall offering of homeowner policies. Those are accomodated through in-state transfers, and additionally includes customers moving in from other states as well as a limited number of new customers."
State Farm's prepared statement does acknowledge what it calls "unique challenges of the Florida market" and says it will monitor its efforts in order to manage responsible growth in Florida. Brower cites anti-trust constraints in refusing to answer questions about State Farm's Florida strategy. According to figures from Florida's Office of Insurance Regulation, companies took in more than $7.7 billion in homeowners and renters premiums in 2012, while paying out just $2.5 billion in claims thanks to a quiet hurricane season.
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