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Florida Insurance Commissioner Resigns

Pekar Law, P.A. Jan. 20, 2016

How Will the Florida Insurance Commissioner’s Resignation Affect Homeowners?

As was reported, the Florida Insurance Commissioner, Kevin McCarthy, has resigned. The resignation came about a year after Governor Scott tried to force him out, so the resignation may have been a fait accompli since then.

In his capacity as commissioner, McCarthy has been responsible for setting rates for property insurance. In the wake if the 2004-2005 storm season, rates escalated dramatically and the departing commissioner was harshly criticized for not being able to curb these increases. McCarthy has been at the helm of the Insurance Agency since 2003.

On the other hand, some contend that the commissioner had a successful tenure because he helped steer the state through a string of devastating hurricanes. He is also credited with protecting consumers, many of whom were elderly, from insurance scams.

Floridians Pay High Property Insurance Rates As McCarthy departs, the fact remains that it is more expensive to buy homeowners’ insurance in Florida than anywhere else in the country — more than double the national average. Insurance premiums statewide for the most common type of homeowners’ policy crossed the $2,000 mark back in 2014, while the national average was about $1,034.

However, insurers have started to cut premiums since then, including Citizens Property Insurance, the state sponsored outfit that rescued homeowners who had been abandoned by other insurance companies, especially in South Florida. Moreover, there is still a wide disparity between the rates that homeowners in South Florida pay compared to other regions in the state.

While a series of devastating hurricane seasons was largely the reason for these skyrocketing rates, some consumer advocates believe that reinsurers have engaged in price gouging in the wake of these catastrophic storms. However, the outgoing commissioner has been credited with steering insurers to buy some reinsurance through the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund. Had this not happened, rates would have climbed even higher. Nonetheless, Floridians continue to pay the highest homeowners’ insurance rates in the country.

Politics as Usual

Mr. McCarthy has successfully navigated the Florida political waters for over a decade, but after Governor Scott was sworn in, McCarthy’s position appeared to be in danger. The commissioner’s departure comes on the heels of a small shake-up in the top tiers of state government. What this means for Florida homeowners remains an unanswered question.

If you are a homeowner who is having problems with your insurance company, or if you need assistance on any property insurance matters, you should consult with a qualified insurance attorney.