If you own a home in Florida, you're probably paying about double what a typical American pays to insure your property. That's according to a February 6 report in the Tampa Bay Times (see: "Homeowners insurance: Floridians pay more than double U.S. average," by Jeff Harrington). "Average insurance premiums statewide for the most common type of homeowners policy rose nearly 8 percent in 2012 to $2,084, according to data released this week from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners," the paper reports. "That makes Florida the first state to cross the $2,000 mark in average premiums and widens the gap between the next two states on the list, both of them coastal: Louisiana (average premiums of $1,742) and Texas ($1,661). The national average: $1,034. For the record, Florida's premiums are 102 percent higher."
According to Jeff Atwater, Florida's chief financial officer, that fact should change. Atwater says that Florida's insurance industry is quite healthy, and that after many years without a catastrophic storm, the state's insurers should be cutting rates. Speaking at a conference sponsored by the Florida Chamber of Commerce, Atwater said that consumers are ready for rates to come down, according to a report in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune (see: "'Wait over' for lower insurance rates," by Mike Schneider). "He said he had asked Florida Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty to report to him if this is the year when Florida's rates, among the highest in the nation, will come down, given that the state hasn't had a hurricane strike in years, the insurance market is more competitive than it has been in a while and reinsurance costs are down. If not, Atwater said, he wants an explanation of what it's going to take to bring down rates, since changes made by the Legislature two years ago were supposed to help lower them."
Speaking to the same group, Insurance Commissioner McCarty said the industry's health is strong. In particular, McCarty pointed to the state's success in shrinking its insurance pool of last resort, the state-created Citizens Property Insurance Corp. "Citizens has gone from almost 1.5 million policyholders three years ago to the current 600,000 policies after policyholders have gone to private companies," the paper reported.