Security First offer to all State Farm customers back on

Feb 9, 2009

St. Petersburg Times--February 7, 2009

By Jeff Harrington, Times Staff Writer

Security First Insurance’s pledge to pick up discarded State Farm customers anywhere in the state – at least the first 50,000 who contact the company – is back on again.

Locke Burt, president of the Ormond Beach insurer, said Friday that he received regulatory approval from the state to adopt a new practice affecting homeowners primarily in the Tampa Bay area who had been frozen out of the replacement coverage offer.

The sticking point was sinkhole risks. Most of the state was unaffected. But Security First refused to write in all or part of six counties until the state agreed to an underwriting change calling for property owners to first get an internal structural inspection for sinkholes or sinkhole damage. The inspection requirement applies only to homeowners who want to purchase optional coverage for damage from any sinkhole loss.

According to Burt, homeowners would front half the cost of the inspection, or about $150. In seeking coverage, they’ll have to give an agent a copy of the declarations page from their current State Farm policy.

Pasco, Hernando, Pinellas, Hillsborough and Citrus counties were affected by the freeze-out, along with five ZIP codes in Marion County.

“If the new underwriting approach is successful, we will expand it to all new business in these areas,” the company said.

Numerous small Florida insurers have made pitches to pick up the business of irate property owners after State Farm, the largest private insurer operating in Florida, said it was pulling out of the state’s property insurance market. But Security First was the first to make a blanket promise to write a set number of policies anywhere statewide.

The company can be contacted at www.securityfirst or toll-free 1-877-333-9992.