Frequently Asked Questions

Homeowners

You are not alone currently there are thousands of Floridians asking themselves the same question. State farm and Nationwide are following the footsteps of Allstate and many others and are non-renewing thousands of policies in Florida to reduce their hurricane exposure.

First and foremost Be an independent shopper. By doing your homework and shopping around you could save yourself hundreds or even thousands of dollars a year.

If you are offered a policy through Citizens Property insurance find out why! In many cases agents don’t have many options so Citizens is their company of choice. This is unfortunate when there are usually many authorized insurers that would be happy to insure your home. Applicants can however obtain coverage through Citizens if they cannot locate insurance through an authorized insurance company or if the authorized company has quoted a premium that is 15% or greater than what Citizens has offered.

Find a good Independent Agent. Independent agents don’t work for any one company so they represent many authorized insurers and can offer you a policy that will best fit your needs. Ask your agent about the discounts available. For example you may have to pay to get a wind mitigation inspection on your home but the result could save you many times over the cost of the inspection.

Evaluate the Financial strength of the company. Most companies post this information on their website or it can be found through the Florida Department of Financial Services. This information is very important when making an informed decision.

Finding quality, affordable insurance may not be as difficult as you may think. Once you find an agent you are comfortable with meet with them face to face. Prior to the meeting make a list of all your questions so you don’t forget any of them. If you know and trust your agent you can rest assured they will always be looking out for your best interest.

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General

There are several factors to review when determining the stability of an insurer. Here is a brief version of what to look for in a company you are considering as your insurance carrier:

Reserves (in millions of dollars): Florida regulators believe insurers need at least $10 million set aside for emergencies. Less than that pushes companies into the red zone. Other experts argue companies need as much as $25 or $50 million to safely operate in Florida.

Risk-to-capital (regulatory score): This measurement uses a formula to compare assets to a company’s risk. The more risk — from market investments or from policies written — the more money and other assets are needed to offset it. The higher the score, the better. A score below 200 prompts regulatory intervention. Some experts say a score of 300 or less raises concerns.

Leverage (dollars per $100,000 insured): Some experts frown on companies that have less than $100 set aside for every $100,000 in property they insure. The more they have, the less likely they are to have cash-flow problems.

South Florida risk (percentage of business in south Florida): Too many policies in one place is dangerous, especially if they are in hurricane-heavy South Florida. Companies with more than 39 percent of their business in South Florida have more concentrated risk than Citizens Property Insurance, the state agency set up to cover houses deemed too risky by private insurers.

Experts agree that this information cannot determine if a company will fail but it can give you the consumer an overall view of the company’s financial situation.

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