Insurance Rates Going Up... Again

Some lawmakers believe the state should do more to protect consumers. State regulators have okayed rate increases for dozens of insurance companies since last year’s hurricane season.

But Nina Bannister with the state Department of Financial Services says insurers should not expect to get another increase just because this year might be equally bad.

Nina Bannister says, “There are rules and regulations regarding what they can ask for and what they can get and they have to justify it, but policy holders might have a hard time believing that if they look at their insurance company’s profit margins.”

We took a look at two of Florida’s largest insurers, Allstate and State Farm. Both raised rates this year, but both parent companies boasted big profits even after last year’s storms.

Allstate touts record revenues of $33.9 billion, and State Farm’s net worth hit a five-year high of $46.3 billion in 2004.

State Rep. Dan Gelber says too often regulators and lawmakers seem to be siding with big insurance instead of the consumer.

Rep. Dan Gelber, (D) Miami Beach, says, “This is really a terrible cycle, you know. The Legislature just really hasn’t addressed these folks head-on and it’s really to the detriment and the pain of Floridians right now.”

Allstate didn’t have anyone available to comment on camera for this story, and State Farm declined our request, but both say profits in their Florida divisions were wiped out last year, and it wouldn’t be fair to raise rates on customers in other parts of the country.

Neither would speculate on whether they’ll ask for another rate hike at the end of this season, but don’t be surprised. State Farm hiked rates by five percent after last year’s storms.

Allstate requested a nearly 30 percent rate hike last month, but scaled back its request after criticism from the office of insurance regulation.