Three Bay area insurers get OK to take out Citizens policies

May 22, 2008

May 21, 2008–Tampa Bay Business Journal

The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation approved the plans of six insurance companies, including three from the Tampa Bay area, to remove 100,000 policies from Citizens Property Insurance Corp. in June.

The approval is part of an effort by state regulators to remove policies from Citizens, a state-created insurance company, and place them in the private market.

American Integrity Insurance Co. of Florida in Tampa was approved to remove up to 75,000 policies and has removed 42,000 policies to date, according to a release from the state insurance office. Avatar Property and Casualty Insurance Co. in Tampa will be able to take out up to 10,000 policies in June, the release said.

Homeowners Choice Property & Casualty Insurance Co., which has removed 20,000 policies to date, can remove an additional 10,000, the release said. Homeowners Choice Property & Casualty, a subsidiary of Homeowners Choice Inc., currently is based in Port St. Lucie but intends to relocate its headquarters to Clearwater in June or July, according to information in an initial public offering filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Also approved to remove Citizens policies are Argus Fire & Casualty Insurance Co. in Miami, Magnolia Insurance Co. in Key Biscayne and Southern Oak Insurance Co. in Jacksonville.

Every company removing the policyholders into the private market has met Florida’s licensing standards, and most of the newer companies were licensed with double or triple the statutorily required startup capital of $5 million, Kevin McCarty, commissioner of the Office of Insurance Regulation, said in the release.

Florida law also requires Citizens’ policyholders to refuse offers from other insurers and stay in Citizens. All take-out companies have agreed to offer the same or better coverage than the policyholder had with Citizens and at the same or lower price, the release said.