By: Charles Elmore
Palm Beach Post
Allstate’s Castle Key Insurance Co. wants home insurance bills to rise 33.9 percent for Palm Beach County customers, slightly above a statewide average of 32.4 percent, records filed for a hearing today show.
Regulators will hear discussion of the rate requests today at a hearing in Tallahassee and rule on them in coming weeks. State insurance consumer advocate Robin Wescott as well as company officials are scheduled to speak.
“The rates filed reflect Castle Key’s desire to preserve its financial ability to serve Florida customers over the long term, and stabilize and rebuild the company’s reserves,” company spokeswoman Cathy Mayo said.
The average premium in the county would rise by a third to $1,421 for Castle Key Insurance and by 23.5 percent to $1,049 for sister firm Castle Key Indemnity Co., according to records provided by the state’s Office of Insurance Regulation.
Allstate’s Castle Key units have been shedding customers in recent years but, combined, still rank No. 6 in market share in Palm Beach County with more than 14,000 customers. The company lost about 550 customers in the county during the first quarter of 2012, a state database shows.
Statewide, the combined Allstate units held the No. 4 market share with more than 250,000 customers at the end of the first quarter. The company says that number is under 240,000 now. State-run insurer Citizens ranks No. 1 with 1.4 million policies, followed by Universal Property & Casualty with 567,000 and State Farm with 466,797.
Castle Key is writing policies across Florida on “a very limited basis,” Mayo said. Castle Key customers can get coverage for their new home if they move within Florida or from another state, providing they meet guidelines, she said.
The company is “focused on serving existing customers and managing the current risk in order to better preserve their financial stability for the long term,” she said.