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Politics

Regulators Consider Fire Insurance Rate Hikes

September 7, 2011 - 6:00pm

Some customers of two insurance companies could see their rates rise by almost 39 percent under a proposal reviewed Thursday by the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation.

Affiliated firms Fidelity Fire & Casualty Co. and First Protective Insurance Co. are requesting an average 24.8 percent increase for nearly 3,100 fire customers in Florida.

Under the proposal, customers in a number of inland regions wouldnt see any change, while those in the Monroe County region could see a 38.6 percent hike.

Customers in the Brevard, Dade, Hillsborough, Indian River, Martin, Okaloosa, Palm Beach, Pinellas, Santa Rosa and Volusia regions all face increases that would top 25 percent.

On average, premiums would rise from $1,420.96 to $1,773.65 a year, according to figures presented by both companies.

The OIR, which offered no opinions during a fact-finding hearing Thursday, is expected to make a ruling by mid-October on the rate requests.

The companies have common ownership through Lake Mary-based Frontline Homeowners Insurance.

Based on our review, we believe the rates and the indications of this filing are not excessive, inadequate or being unfairly discriminatory, said Nancy Watkins, an actuary hired by Frontline to study the rate request.

No opposition to the hike was offered at the hearing.

The rate increase would be the first for both companies since 2006, Watkins said. Both companies reduced rates in 2007.

Hearings are required for any residential rate hike request that tops 15 percent.

Since June, insurance officials have approved 28 insurance rate hike requests, ranging from 4 percent to 34 percent.The majority of the approvals were for increases under 15 percent.

Another 17 rate increase proposals are under review by the insurance regulation office.

Contact Jim Turner at jturner@sunshinestatenews.com or (at 850) 727-0859.

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