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Insurance Market on the Mend

Bradenton Herald - 04/21/07
By Brian Neill

Excerpts from the article:

"Four new homeowners insurance carriers have entered the Florida market since the state passed legislation in January to lower premiums and entice new carriers to write policies. Another three companies have applications pending with regulators to begin doing business in the state, according to the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation. New carriers entering the market is a sign companies are finding it more attractive to do business in the Sunshine State after the Legislature expanded the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund in January to give insurers cheaper reinsurance, which is insurance for insurance companies..."

"...Ross Buchmueller, president and chief executive officer of Plantation-based PURE High Net Worth Insurance, said the law changes helped carve out a special niche for his company, which only insures homes worth $1 million or more and began writing policies Jan. 29.

One of those changes involved Citizens Property Insurance Corp., the state's insurer of last resort, no longer being able to offer coverage on $1 million homes in order to limit risk exposure, Buchmueller said.

"The changes from Senate Bill 1980 created an attractive environment . . . making million-dollar homes ineligible for Citizens and creating a capital buildup incentive," said Buchmueller, whose company has $50 million in capital. "All of that was very attractive.

"Because reinsurance is easier to get on higher-priced, better-built homes, the expansion of the CAT fund didn't really play a part in the company deciding to start writing policies in Florida," Buchmueller said. "I'm not suggesting it's a bad thing, but it's certainly not the thing that got us interested in the market."

PURE High Net Worth has approved 200 of 1,500 qualifying applications, Buchmueller said, adding that the company will do a substantial part of its business locally.

"We love your area," Buchmueller said. "The number of inquiries we get from Lakewood Ranch is terrific. There is a lot of construction there that is fitting our appetite."