By MIKE SCHNEIDER (Associated Press)
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — AAA won’t renew “a very small percentage” of homeowners and auto insurance policies in hurricane-wracked Florida, joining other insurers in limiting their exposure in the Sunshine State despite efforts by lawmakers to calm the volatile insurance market, the company said Tuesday.
AAA said in a statement that it wasn’t leaving Florida, but that last year’s devastating hurricane season had led to an “unprecedented” rise in reinsurance rates, making it more costly to operate.
Officials with the company refused to say how many policies in Florida wouldn’t be renewed but said that they were “higher exposure” package policies which bundle homeowners and auto policies and were underwritten by Auto Club Insurance Company of Florida. An AAA spokesman wouldn’t explain how the company defined “higher exposure,” when asked.
“This is a decision we do not take lightly,” the AAA statement said. “We acknowledge that this is a difficult time for those affected.”
The affected policyholders already have been notified, and they can apply for auto coverage from sister carrier, Auto Club South Insurance. AAA also said it would continue to write other, new home and auto policies, despite the decision not to renew some policies.
Florida’s insurance woes are leaving some homeowners like Lawrence Kolin in the lurch. His insurer wouldn’t renew a policy for his stucco and brick, Spanish-tile-roofed home near downtown Orlando. With 30 days left until his coverage lapses, he can’t get another insurance company to give him a quote.
“My house has survived 84 years of hurricane seasons,” Kolin, a mediator and trial attorney in Orlando, said Tuesday. “It’s just an untenable situation.”
Florida has struggled to maintain stability in the state insurance market since 1992 when Hurricane Andrew flattened Homestead, wiped out some insurance carriers and left many remaining companies fearful to write or renew policies in Florida. Risks for carriers have also been growing as climate change increases the strength of hurricanes and the intensity of rainstorms.
The decision by AAA comes a week after Farmers Insurance said it was discontinuing new coverage of auto, home and umbrella policies in Florida, joining a long list of insurance woes to hit the Sunshine State recently.
Seven insurers have been declared insolvent in Florida since early 2022. Average annual property insurance premiums jumped 42% this year to $6,000 in Florida, compared to a national average of $1,700. About 15% of homeowners in the state didn’t have property insurance, compared with the national average of 7%, according to the Insurance Information Institute, a research organization funded by the insurance industry.
The Legislature and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis have grappled with the issue each of the last two years, including a special session in December. Most of the focus has been on shielding insurance companies from lawsuits and setting aside money for re-insurance to help protect insurers. Critics of DeSantis, who is seeking the 2024 GOP presidential nomination, say he has focused too much effort on divisive cultural issues and not enough on making housing and insurance more affordable.
Follow Mike Schneider on Twitter at @MikeSchneiderAP