I-Team: Ratings firms seldom share financial-stability scores with consumers

Other resources for insurer research are scarce

TAMPA - Florida homeowners have few options when it comes to determining the financial stability of their property insurer.

The state-run insurer of last resort, Citizens Property Insurance Corp., has written about 24 percent of all property insurance policies in force in Florida.  No other private insurer has more than 10 percent.

That's why state officials are so anxious to hand off as many Citizens customers as possible to other insurers, including some companies that are only a few years old. That spreads the risk around, the officials say.

Citizens Property Insurance is trying to unload thousands of homeowner policies onto private insurers.  But who are these companies?  And will they be around after a big storm hits?  The I-Team is taking action to protect you and your property from the insurance industry -- Friday night at 11:00 p.m.

Where can homeowners go when they're invited to switch to a new insurer?

Call 1-877-MY-FLA-CFO or visit www.floir.com/companysearch/ to be sure the company is licensed to sell property insurance in Florida.
Four firms rate the financial stability of property insurers. But A.M. Best and SNL Financial only make their ratings available to subscribers for a fee.  Weiss charges after the first 10 ratings reports. An insurance broker may subscribe to those services and provide the information to clients.

A fourth firm, Demotech, makes its ratings available to the public.  But some critics say Demotech is too generous with their top ratings. That renders Demotech's opinions just about worthless, according to the critics.

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