Florida’s small P/C insurers have withstood losses from Hurricane Irma and a legal environment that’s dubbed a “judicial hellhole” by the American Tort Reform Association, a recent article in S&P Global Market Intelligence reports.
The financial ratings firm Demotech affirmed the financial strength of over 50 companies in late March, a decision found “encouraging” by the CEO of the state-run Citizens Property Insurance Corp, Barry Gilway.
Gilway said that Demotech’s March actions is evidence of the resilience that smaller carriers showed during a year in which Hurricane Irma caused insured losses of about $8.61 billion, according to the latest Florida Office of Insurance Regulation tally.
Florida insurers face both weather-related risk and costs stemming from litigation on non-weather-related water-loss claims with an assignment of benefits (AOB) and other legal matters. To combat the AOB problem, Citizens has drawn-up changes in policy language, increased efforts to fight fraud and grew its managed repair program. In January, Citizens said it expects AOB and litigation costs would account for about 23 percent of its 2018 operating expenses, up from 16 percent in 2017 – an increase of $17 million.
The frequency and severity of water-loss claims over the past 2.5 years shows “extremely negative trends,” and that deteriorating trends have begun to spread northward within the state, said Gilway.
Citizens is reopening approximately 37 percent of claims related to Hurricane Irma as part of its ongoing work to help its policyholders, who have been frustrated by a shortage of contractors, the Insurance Journal reported. A spokesperson for Citizens said that it’s common for claims to be reopened, and that the majority of those reopened are non-AOB Irma claims.