Property & Casualty Insurance/Homeowner's Insurance in Florida + Personal Umbrella Liability, & Auto Insurance
I have been with State Farm for many years & was forced into Citizens for homeowners insurance a few years ago. Currently, I'm looking at our auto & personal liability umbrella insurance as well because State Farm has made changes to the auto insurance policy form that concern me. It's difficult to come close to State Farm's premiums because of the length of time that my wife & I have been with them--we're grandfathered in to several discounts. However, one of the agencies that I have contacted is proposing insurance coverage that will provide equivalent or better coverage at a lower price.
For Homeowners, they are proposing United Property & Casualty Insurance Company (UPC)& I'm having trouble finding objective financial information about this company. These new homeowners insurance companies don't have much of a track record & are paid to take policies out of Citizens & I find that concerning. Currently, the Florida Legislature is deciding what to do about Citizens premium increases. As I understand it, premium increases are limited for current policy holders but not for new customers. So, I'm concerned that, if I leave Citizens now for UPC & have to return to them in the future if UPC doesn't survive or doesn't renew us, I will be hit with a huge premium increase. #Customers who leave Citizens & later return are treated as new customers.)
For personal liability umbrella insurance, they are proposing Hudson Specialty Insurance Company. Supposedly this company has an A.M. Best rating of A Excellent XV. I don't know what XV means. I also don't know anything else about this company & am asking if this would be a safe move for claims paying ability & difficulty.
For auto insurance they are proposing MetLife. MetLife requires a physician's statement because my wife & I are both over 75. At this point, I'm not sure what this statement consists of. Also, with State Farm, our policy is guaranteed renewable & I don't know if MetLife has this feature.
So the upshot is that, like everyone else, I'd like to save money but, more importantly, is the coverages & claims paying ability of the insurers & if they'll be around for the long haul. If I leave State Farm & return later, I'll loose all of the grandfathered benefits that I have now & it will be more expensive to be insured with them than it is now.
Any advice that you can provide will be most appreciated.
Thank you for taking the time to understand my concerns.
I hope I can give you some helpful advice here. I have to be completely transparent here, though. Normally I do not tell people what I do because I don't want that to give the appearance that my answers are anything less than straight forward, honest assessments. In your case, though, you need to know that I am the VP of UPC Insurance Company. Now that may be good or bad...depending on how you view my answers. With that in mind, I promise that I will not sell you on UPC. Instead, I will refer you to our website...and specifically...our investor relations page.
UPC is a publicly traded company...traded on NASDAQ under the symbol UIHC. As a publicly traded company, we must be completely and totally transparent and all of our financials, press releases, and other documents are posted per SEC guidelines. The website is www.upcinsurance.com. I encourage you to go there and see that UPC is NOT the typical FL domestic takeout company. In fact, very little of our business is done through Citizens takeouts. We have operations in FL, SC, NC, MA, RI, and we were just admitted into NJ. Okay...enough of that!!
As far as Citizens goes...as a homeowner myself, I can tell you that I would rather be insured by any other company than Citizens. If there is a serious storm, those people insured by Citizens could be assessed up to 40% of their premium to handle the shortfall of capital needed to pay the claims. In addition, if that 40% is not enough, the assessment will spill over into all of your other insurance policies with the rest of us. In addition, Citizens has the largest market share in the entire state. The sheer volume of claims would be way more than Citizens could get to in a reasonable period of time.
From an auto insurance perspective, every company that writes auto insurance wants it more than any other coverage. It's important to understand that there have been times in the past and will be again in the future when that will not be the case. That company that may be the lowest now could be the highest then. All I'm saying here is that price is never the best reason to switch companies. Stability is the most important thing. That being said, Met has been in the auto business for quite some time.
I have never heard of Hudson before so I looked them up. Hudson Specialty is what we call an Excess & Surplus Lines company. There are two ways a company can do business in FL...as an Admitted company or a Surplus Lines company. Admitted companies must meet strict financial guidelines every year. They must file all their rates and forms with the Office of Insurance Regulation. Rates and forms cannot be changed without approval from the OIR. Surplus Lines carriers are reviewed and approved to do business in FL by the OIR but the requirements are less strict. In addition, forms and rates are not subject to regulation so they are typically not standardized. Those rates and forms can change each renewal as the company deems necessary. Finally...Admitted companies are covered by the Florida Insurance Guarantee Association (FIGA). If an Admitted company becomes insolvent and cannot pay its claims, FIGA steps in to pay those outstanding claims up to certain limits. Surplus Lines companies are NOT protected by FIGA.
There are a few companies that write Personal Umbrellas that are Admitted companies. Two that come to mind are Personal Umbrella.com and RLI Insurance Company. Both write Personal Umbrellas over any company's auto and/or homeowner policies.
At the end of the day...there is no doubt this is a very important decision for you. There is something to say about longevity with a company, although in FL, I'm not sure how much that means these days. Switching companies is a very scary thing, especially when you've been with State Farm for such a long time. Unfortunately, your State Farm agent cannot place your homeowner coverage with another company. I really feel that the most important thing you can do is find a really good agent...there are a lot of those out there.
I hope I've helped you in some way. I try not to recommend one insurance delivery system over another because I feel like they both have value. Your State Farm agent is probably a great agent. I know a number of them and, while they only represent one company group, they know their business well and do an excellent job. On the other hand, the Independent Agent represents a number of companies and can move you to another company if the one you have no longer writes coverage. In your case, there is a lot to be said for the length of time you've been with State Farm. If that relationship is strong, how much savings is it really worth?
If you have more questions, please feel free to submit them and I will be more than happy to answer them for you.
Oh...one last thing. The XV after the AM Best rating simply refers to the company's surplus size. XV is the largest surplus classification that Best has.