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Insurance regulators want State Farm to clarify nonrenewal data

Just how many Florida policyholders does State Farm plan to drop?

After State Farm Florida vice president Kathy Popejoy told regulators at a rate hearing Tuesday that the company was dropping wind coverage on 23,000 policies, company officials scrambled to clarify that would not violate an agreement State Farm has with the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation to cap its nonrenewals at 50,000.

State Farm officials told regulators Tuesday that Popejoy's statements were incorrect, and that the company would issue a letter clarifying its position.

Thursday, OIR spokesman Ed Domansky said regulators have not received that letter, and Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty is preparing "to send in our own examiner to look at the data for ourselves."

State Farm is Florida's largest private home insurer with about 950,000 policyholders statewide, including nearly 100,000 in the Tampa Bay area. The Bloomington, Ill., insurer is seeking a 47.1 percent average increase in property insurance premiums.

State Farm agreed last fall to drop no more than 50,000 policies, and has begun the process of cutting back on its book of business.

But Popejoy's comments to regulators that 15,000 condo unit owners would be dropped when their policies come up for renewal, and that the wind portion of 8,000 homeowners policies would be excluded, came as a surprise.

"Technically, State Farm has not violated the agreement," Domansky said. "This goes to whether or not they properly disclosed to us these additional (23,000) policies. The first we heard of it was when they mentioned it at (Tuesday's) hearing."

State Farm spokesman Chris Neal said the company is "absolutely in compliance with the OIR agreement, and we have no new plans to nonrenew additional policies."

Tom Zucco can be reached at zucco@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8247.

Insurance regulators want State Farm to clarify nonrenewal data 08/14/08 [Last modified: Sunday, August 17, 2008 6:00pm]

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