The start of the season finds Florida's insurance market in a "fragile" state, an analysis by Fitch Ratings concludes. The largest remaining private insurer, State Farm, has threatened to leave within two years. The state-run insurer of last resort, Citizens, is the biggest player by some measures. The state's catastrophe fund, a backup to the insurance market, stands at least $9.5 billion short of being able to cover its maximum repayment obligations, Fitch figures.
Part of the trouble is hurricanes cost geometrically more than they did decades ago. Florida's population has grown more than 500 percent since 1950 to more than 18 million.
"The hurricanes haven't changed much," Chris Landsea, science and operations officer at the National Hurricane Center, said in a recent meeting in West Palm Beach. "We just have a lot more people in the way."
"If a major hurricane strikes Florida this season, we all pay!"
A strong reminder on the eve of the season's start!