Florida Office of Insurance Regulation approves 2 new property insurance companies

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Posted at 6:25 PM, Aug 23, 2023
and last updated 2023-08-24 08:39:50-04

TAMPA, Fla. — Florida’s Office of Insurance Regulation said the property insurance market is seeing signs of positive growth with the announcement of two new insurance companies entering the Florida market, bringing the total to four new companies this year.

Orion180 Select Insurance Company and Orion180 Insurance Company join Mainsail Insurance Company, which was approved by OIR in August, and Tailrow Insurance Company, which was approved by OIR in April.

In recent years, more than a dozen property insurance companies operating in Florida have gone insolvent or pulled out of the state. Companies have cited reasons such as roofing scams and litigation costs.

One of those was Pam Haye’s insurance company, Gulfstream.

“The state said they didn't have enough funding to support us homeowners, so I ended up going back to Citizens, and I've stayed with Citizens,” St. Pete Homeowner Pam Hayes explained. “It's difficult. I mean, there's older people in my neighborhood, there's people like myself on disability or just have a disability, and it's not right, it's not fair.”

The Florida Legislature passed new regulations in two special sessions on property insurance in 2022 and furthered reform in session this year.

Of the changes, one of the biggest safeguards for insurance companies is the ban on “fee multipliers” for attorneys who sue.

It’s one of the reasons Slide Insurance CEO and former Heritage Insurance CEO Bruce Lucas told ABC Action News Slide was to enter the market last year.

"I knew that there were going to be mass insolvencies in Florida, so we raised a tremendous amount of capital to really kind of capitalize on market opportunities," Lucas explained in February.

Slide came into the market, taking on policies from St John’s, then UPC and now Citizens Property Insurance.

Hayes said she just wants to see the proof that new companies can and will pay out claims in time of a disaster.

“My family in the South Florida area are lawyers, and they're having they're having to sue their insurance company because they haven't paid,” she expressed, referring to damage from Hurricane Ian.

“I want to know how much money they come in with. That's what I want to know. And how many are they allowed to carry?” she said.

Those are questions that aren’t easy to answer.

We combed through OIR documents to get as many details as possible.

The first company they approved in April is Tailrow Insurance, formed as a stock corporation with 2.5 million common voting shares held by HCI, which also owns other insurance companies. As part of the agreement, it also had to start with a $300,000 deposit in initial capital.

Second is Mainsail Insurance Company, a Texas-based property and casualty insurer.

This week, OIR approved Orion180 Select Insurance Company and Orion180 Insurance Company out of Indiana to expand into Florida.

In addition to new companies, OIR is seeing greater interest in the Citizens Depopulation program. This year, they approved insurers to take 280,000 policies from Citizens.

“Takeout, or depopulation, is the program created by the Florida Legislature that was developed to reduce the number of Citizens’ insured properties and exposure,” according to OIR.

We’ve reported that Citizens Property Insurance Corporation is supposed to be the state-backed insurer of last resort, but the company quickly became many homeowner’s only option as many private companies froze new business or set regulations on the age of homes. In June 2023, Citizens had 1.3 million policies in force.

According to OIR documents from this year, they approved Cypress Insurance to take 5,000 policies from Citizens, 10,000 to Florida Peninsula for 10,000, Edison for 5,000, Monarch for 46,000, and Slide for 25,000.

The Citizens website also lists Loggerhead Insurance.

Citizens still has more than a million policies.