Nationwide to drop Florida policies

By now, the news is familiar to many Florida homeowners.

In an effort to further limit its hurricane exposure in the state, Nationwide Insurance of Florida said Tuesday it will not renew 39,000 property policies in Florida, starting in January.

For Nationwide, which will begin sending out the notices next month, this isn't the first time it has trimmed its policy count in the state to reduce exposure. In March, the company resumed sending out nonrenewal notices to 25,000 residential policyholders. Those were part of a 35,000-policy reduction Nationwide announced in September 2005.

Other major insurers including State Farm, which isn't renewing about 50,000 policies, and Allstate have decided not to renew policies in recent years to cut their exposure to hurricane risk. Allstate has cut more than 300,000 policies in the past three years, including 106,000 policies that will be canceled as renewals begin coming up in April.

Earlier this year, USAA, which covers active and retired military and their families, decided to write new policies only for active military and would limit coverage to one home. The firm hopes this action will reduce its exposure in Florida by about 10 percent.

Besides the property policies, Nationwide will also cut 1,600 commercial property policies and plans to stop selling dwelling fire insurance.

Of the policies to be canceled, 622 homeowners policies that include windstorm are in Miami-Dade County and about 2,000 are in Broward. After the reductions, Nationwide will have roughly 7,300 in Miami-Dade and 10,600 in Broward.

Nationwide policyholders who receive nonrenewal notices may receive an offer for personal lines coverage from Security First Insurance. But homeowners are free to shop around.

After this reduction, the firm will continue to have more than 506,000 policies in Florida, including more than 176,000 personal, or residential, property policies.

Nationwide said it will increase its focus on auto insurance lines, commercial casualty lines and financial services offerings.