Aug. 07--Regulators in a hearing today questioned why Allstate'sCastle Key Insurance Co. needs to boost bills 32.4 percent statewide -- and 47.9 percent in Martin County.
"Somebody in Martin County now paying $2,000 would be paying $3,000 -- those are huge swings," said Belinda Miller, general counsel for the state's Office of Insurance Regulation. "I don't know what's going on in Martin County to generate a 47 percent increase."
Company senior actuary Shantelle Thomas had no immediate answer at a Tallahassee hearing: "I don't necessarily have the information to provide that answer now."
State insurance consumer advocate Robin Westcott said, "It appears from this filing Allstate is attempting to pull away from the coastal areas."
That likely means a "revolving door" to the state's property insurer of last resort Citizens remains open, Wescott said.
Regulators pressed Allstate for more information to justify expenses related to such things as transactions with the parent company, marketing and advertising and potential storm losses when it is not writing new property insurance business in Florida and has not been renewing tens of thousands of customers. The company said it would respond in less than three weeks. Regulators will begin to arrive at a decision on the rate request after that information is collected.
In Palm Beach County, the average premium would rise by 33.9 percent to $1,421 for Castle Key Insurance and by 23.5 percent to $1,049 for sister firm Castle Key Indemnity Co.
A company spokeswoman said the increases are necessary to "preserve its financial ability to serve Florida customers over the long term."
Allstate's Castle Key units have been shedding customers for years but, taken together, still recently ranked No. 6 in market share in Palm Beach County with more than 14,000 customers.
The combined Allstate units held the No. 4 market share in Florida with more than 250,000 customers at the end of the first quarter. Company officials say that number is under 240,000 now. Discussion Tuesday referred to another 16,000 or more nonrenewals, though a company spokesman said most of those had already occured and virtually all had been notified.
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