Florida CFO Jimmy Patronis has pledged to hold “Bud Light of insurance” Farmers Insurance accountable following the insurance company’s announcement that it will exit own-branded personal lines business in Florida, affecting 100,000 policyholders.
In a Tuesday update, Patronis took aim at Farmers Insurance’s plans to trim approximately 30% of its book in the state.
“I’ve always said that when big decisions are made on insurance – the policyholder is rarely in the room – and unfortunately Farmers Insurance proved me right,” Patronis said. “I have asked my team to put their heads together in holding Farmers Insurance accountable to Florida policyholders.”
Patronis has ordered the Division of Consumer Services to take a “deeper dive” into complaints against the carrier, which he said could lead to a market conduct investigation if a certain threshold is met.
If Farmers cancels any policies, it must return refunds to customers, Patronis said. He further confirmed that his office is working with the Florida Association of Insurance Agents to explore a bulk transfer arrangement.
“After everything the Florida legislature has done to assist insurance companies from slowing the bleed, and then to have Farmers communicate their intentions in such a ham-handed manner, company leadership needs to get ready, because my guess is they’re about to get hauled before the Legislature to answer for their actions when the next legislative session begins,” Patronis said. “The more we learn about Farmers Insurance the more it’s clear its leadership doesn’t know what they’re doing.”
I’ve always said that when big decisions are made on insurance the policyholder is rarely in the room; unfortunately @WeAreFarmers proved me right. I’ve asked my team to put their heads together in holding Farmers Insurance accountable. I want additional scrutiny on this company. pic.twitter.com/fDgadXndfx— Jimmy Patronis (@JimmyPatronis) July 12, 2023
Patronis accused Farmers Insurance of “being bad at helping people [and] good at virtue signalling”, levelling one example of the insurer having become the first US-based insurer to sign up to the United Nations’ Principles for Sustainable Insurance.
“It’s clear that while Farmers was planning to make plans to exit a significant number of policies out of Florida, they were playing politics, and weren’t focused on running a successful company,” Patronis said. “I sincerely believe that with today’s actions, Farmers Insurance is well on its way to becoming the Bud Light of insurance.”
As of 2023, Bud Light has been facing a boycott from some conservatives, a campaign said to be largely connected to its paid sponsorship deal with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney.
Patronis further pointed to legislative changes that have sought to make the insurance market more palatable for insurance companies in the wake of Hurricane Ian’s devastation and a slew of carrier insolvencies prior to the major storm.
The type of litigation that raises rates is down 43%, Patronis said, while Citizens is expected to generate savings of $600 million from changes and “several” carriers have expressed interest in taking on policies.
“The legislature did impactful work to help stabilize the market, and Farmers Insurance’s actions are less a representation of the Florida market – and more of bad leadership at the insurer,” he suggested.
In a statement shared yesterday with Insurance Business, Farmers Insurance said the move was “necessary to effectively manage risk exposure” and confirmed that changes only applied to its exclusive agency channel.
The insurance company also confirmed plans to limit new homeowners’ policies in California.
What’s your view on Farmers Insurance’s pullback from the Florida insurance market? Let us know in the comments below.