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Does your FL marina have insurance?


Does your FL marina have insurance?

Old 04-27-2006, 08:59 AM
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Default Does your FL marina have insurance?

Thursday, April 27, 2006

TALLAHASSEE Marina owner Butch Bayley has gone through four insurance agents trying to get windstorm coverage for his Sailfish Marina in Stuart. His policy runs out in May.

But unlike Florida homeowners, Bayley and thousands of other business owners can't fall back on Citizens Property Insurance Corp., the state-run insurer of last resort.

That's because under Florida law, Citizens can't insure businesses that are not in its high-risk, or windstorm, pool.

And Martin County, where Bayley's marina has been for 25 years, doesn't have any land that's covered in the pool.

According to business owners, insurance agents and lawmakers, that has left businesses from mom-and-pop stores to doctors offices to shopping centers in some of the state's priciest coastal areas scrambling to find windstorm insurance just as hurricane season is approaching.

Although Citizens covers billions of dollars' worth of businesses near water and coastlines around the state, parts of the coastline in some counties including Martin, Manatee, Hillsborough and Citrus aren't in the high-risk pool because they in effect opted out of the pool years ago when regulators opened it up to everyone after Hurricane Andrew.

Before that, the high-risk pool covered only the Keys. Then, in 2002, the legislature capped the growth of the high-risk pool. Counties such as Martin that hadn't gotten into the pool were left out.

That's putting people such as Bayley, whose insurers have dropped or intend to drop drop windstorm coverage, in the bad spot of possibly insuring themselves.

"There's been a great deal of pressure to turn this land into condos. We've resisted," he said of his 2.4 acres on the water. "But if my buildings blow down, I would be hard-pressed to justify rebuilding and putting myself at risk again."

Rep. Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, plans to bring an amendment to the House property insurance bill to the floor today that he says would provide some relief. The amendment, which was defeated by one vote in the House Commerce Council Monday, would expand the high-risk pool for one year to include all of the state's barrier islands and all areas 2,000 feet from the coast.

"Another hurricane season starts in June, and you have people who can't get insured," Galvano said, adding that he was particularly concerned about the small tourist businesses in his west coast district.

But it isn't just the west coast facing problems.

Scott Johnson, executive vice president of the Florida Association of Independent Agents, said his group has received calls from agents around the state who are having trouble writing policies for businesses. As a result, some businesses are doing what once was unthinkable: going bare.

"They have no choice,"Johnson said. "If they can't find it anywhere and they can't get it in Citizens, they don't have a choice."

The Stuart/Martin County Chamber of Commerce not only has heard complaints from its members but also has experienced the problem firsthand. The chamber's insurance was dropped three months ago, and it still is trying to find a replacement, President Joe Catrambone said.

The situation leaves some business owners looking to Tallahassee for help. But the legislature, which has been focusing on homeowners insurance, has little in its reform bills that will provide immediate relief for businesses.

"We need some answers. We need an emergency measure in Tallahassee," said Jennifer Castle Field, president of Chapman School of Seamanship in Stuart. "For our company, it's a desperate situation and nobody seems to be awake until the boom is lowered."

The school's insurer is dropping windstorm coverage in May and she hasn't secured anything yet, Field said.

Meanwhile, agents are trying to find insurance for businesses from regular insurers as well as surplus lines companies, the unregulated, higher-priced firms best known for insuring exotic risks that other companies don't want. But some agents say even surplus lines companies are turning businesses away.

"They're also restricting supply," said David Willbur, president of Harbor Insurance Agency Inc. in Fort Pierce. "In some cases, we're seeing surplus lines companies offer to renew without windstorm. They're not offering windstorm at any price."

The market began tightening after Hurricanes Frances and Jeanne, but agents say Hurricane Wilma has made it nearly impossible.

Citizens, which is a fallback for many property owners who cannot find insurance, is hamstrung by Florida law and it probably would take legislative action to change that, spokesman Justin Glover said.

The high-risk pool covers areas east of Interstate 95 in central and southern Palm Beach County, and areas east of Alternate A1A in north county. In St. Lucie County, Hutchinson Island and places 1,000 feet from the ocean are in the high-risk pool.

Citizens hasn't taken a position on insuring businesses outside the high-risk pool, Glover said. But it does oppose expanding the pool because it will increase Citizens' exposure, which is nearing $220 billion.
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Old 04-27-2006, 09:38 AM
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Default Re: Does your FL marina have insurance?

The state is going to have to do SOMETHING?! We are, personally, trying to pay off our boat this year, and then go with SELF-INSURE! I have a trailer and will just take our boat off the lift and store it over in Orlando, in one of my renter's warehouses or @ my sister-in-laws place! Our plan for the house is kinda similiar, we want to pay-off the house in the next 2-4 years, and probobly will go with self-insure also, after we have professional hurricane shutters installed, right now, we just go the plywood route. With a 2% deductible and the way homeowners insurance is RISING, it will be cheaper to pay for repairs out of our own pockets!!
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Old 04-27-2006, 10:17 AM
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Default Re: Does your FL marina have insurance?

Scary thought.
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