For those of you who don't know, because I didn't, yesterday State Farm announced that they would pretty much be pulling out of every area of the Florida Insurance Market besides auto, life and health insurance. That means for every one who has their homeowners insurance policies with them, we will have to go to Citizens Property Insurance (a company governed by the State of Florida) or another sub-standard company. State Farm is the #1 insurance provider in the state. Recently, they have been paying out $1.20 for every $1 they get. When they requested a rate increase from Florida's Office of Insurance Regulation, they were denied. So now, they are pulling out. Jake informed me it would take a couple years for the decision to fully work itself out, and that it could still be possible for Tallahassee to make things right. We in the Crosby household, are hoping this is the case.
Last night, when Jake finally got home from work, he put his frustration into words:
Dear Gov. Crist,
I was extremely upset and disappointed by your response to State Farm's announcement that they will be pulling out of the state's property insurance market. The St. Pete Times quoted you as saying, "They probably charge the highest rates in the state, anyway. Floridians will be much better off without them." I cannot believe that you chose to respond to the planned pullout of the state's largest private insurer in such an uncharacteristically flippant manner. Have you not considered the direct ramifications this pullout will have on "Floridians" employed by State Farm and its agents? Have you not considered the indirect ramifications on the state's insurance market as a whole that is, metaphorically speaking, currently held together with chewing gum and bailing wire? Will Citizens and the various sub-standard insurance carriers that have been brought in to help stabilize the state's property insurance market be able to weather another hurricane season like the one we experienced in 2004? At some point, Tallahassee lawmakers are going to run out of insurance companies to publicly flog and will have to actually come up with some solutions that resemble the free market principles our Party supposedly champions.
I guess I am sensitive to this topic because my father has been a State Farm agent for over 25 years and is probably 8-10 years from retirement. He is an honest, hard-working man who started his agency by selling life insurance door-to-door. Today he employs 4 people, 2 of whom are the sole wage earners in their family. If State Farm makes good on its announcement today, he will watch his business crumble and his retirement along with it. He will also be in the unenviable position of laying off members of his staff and/or drastically cutting their salaries. Try telling their families that Floridians will be "better off."
I hope your statement today was not an indication of how you plan to address the property insurance crisis in our state. The Charlie Crist I know and volunteered for in 2006 can do better.
For those of you as flabbergasted as we are, feel free to contact the Governor. Hopefully, this catastrophe can still be averted.