Thousands of Floridians to See Property Insurance Rate Hikes

Nationwide, Florida’s fourth largest insurance company, is asking for an average statewide premium increase of 71 percent. The proposed rate hike is just the latest in a series of double and even triple-digit increases swamping Florida insurance customers.

Nationwide Insurance Company is asking the state to grant an average rate increase of more than 70 percent for its Florida homeowners. Insurance agent Doug Croley writes nationwide and several other companies’ policies. He says he gets calls all the time from frustrated customers who don’t know how they’re going to pay their next bill.

Doug Croley said, "We do feel their pain, like I said. It’s very important to be sensitive to the public’s need and what the public is facing out there in trying to pay these premiums."

But short of trying to find his customers a better deal or making suggestions on how they can update their homes, there’s not a lot he can do.

The Nationwide rate increase request is the second for the company in the past two years, but it’s just one of many the state has granted for dozens of companies since the 2004 storm season.

State insurance commissioner Kevin McCarty says Nationwide’s request is by no means a done deal, but he understands insurers’ complaints that they’re being pinched by the rising cost of reinsurance, which is what the companies themselves have to buy to cover their own losses.

Kevin McCarty, Florida Insurance Commissioner, said, "We’ve seen this in a number of filings we’ve seen both this year and last year. Right now we are very much victimized by the cost of global reinsurance. We really need to look for a national solution to our problems here in Florida."

In the short-term though, more and more Floridians are likely to be priced right out of the market. The state Office of Insurance Regulation has 90 days to review the nationwide rate filing. During that time period public hearings will be held by the office.