Rate hikes a credit plus for Florida state insurer-Moody's

Wed Oct 10, 2012 11:16am EDT

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Oct 10 (Reuters) - Moody's Investors Service sees a 10.8 percent rise for homeowner policies and other rate hikes granted Florida's Citizens Property Insurance Corp as a credit positive for the storm-prone state's property insurer of last resort.

State-owned Citizens is rated by Moody's as A2 with a stable outlook. It has campaigned for years to shift policies back to private insurers.

Many large private insurers have exited Florida or cut back exposure in the state, which has driven a big jump in market share for Citizens. In 2005, Citizens covered 19 percent of the Florida market. It now has a 27 percent share, with 1.4 million customers.

"The increase is a credit positive step toward bringing (Citizens) rates more in line with competitors, helping to reduce the number of properties it insures and increasing capital available to pay claims on remaining policies," Moody's analysts said in written commentary. "Higher rates also reduce (Citizens') need for additional assessments and bond issuance."

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