tampabay.com

Tower Hill joins flight from coastal insurance market

By TOM ZUCCO
Published February 2, 2007


Add Tower Hill to the growing list of property insurance companies that no longer write new homeowner policies along large parts of Florida's coast.

In a letter this week to its agents, Tower Hill said it will immediately stop writing new policies, both with wind and excluding wind coverage, in 16 coastal counties, including Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas.

Tower Hill officials were unavailable to comment Thursday on the status of existing policyholders. But in its letter, the Gainesville company said it was forced to stop writing new business following an emergency order issued Tuesday by Gov. Charlie Crist that placed a 90-day moratorium on all rate increases and nonrenewals.

"We regret that as a result of the tenuous situation created by the recent emergency order," the letter reads, "we are now forced to make this decision to close our companies to new coastal business."

Tower Hill has about 190,000 policies statewide, including nearly 30,000 in the bay area.

The private market has largely abandoned much of coastal South Florida since the 2004-05 hurricane seasons, leaving state-run Citizens Property Insurance as often the only alternative. About a third of Citizens' 1.3 million policies are in that area.