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Nationwide moves to stabilize long-shrinking Fla. homeowners business

hasrevised its approach to the Florida personal property insurance business a decadeafter the consecutive severe hurricane seasons in 2004 and 2005 served as the backdropfor a dramatic retrenchment that has played out over a number of years.

disclosed in a rate filing submitted to the Florida Office of Insurance Regulationon April 7 that it recently "actively begun to write new business" onHO-3 policy forms in a step that the company expects to result in "a stabilizationof the size" of its Florida property insurance portfolio, which has been steadilydeclining. Concurrent with the relaunch of new business, Nationwide Insurance Co.of Florida revealed a new 100% quota-share treaty between it and Nationwide Mutualthat took effect Jan. 1.

The NationwideMutual company said it stopped writing all new personal lines property policiesin Florida, including homeowners, condominium and tenant coverage, effective Sept.1, 2005, as part of what it described in a 2006rate filing as "a long-term strategy to manage its exposure inFlorida to better protect its business in Florida and policyholders across the country."A 2011 rate filing statedthat Nationwide Insurance Co. of Florida had not been writing new Florida businesson forms HO-3 or HO-6, but the company was writing new tenant coverage at that pointon form HO-4.

NationwideInsurance Co. of Florida began writing business in 2000, and its Florida homeownersdirect premium writings expanded quickly to the point that it ranked as the SunshineState's third-largest private writer of homeowners business in 2004 among individualentities, behind only State Farm FloridaInsurance Co. and Allstate Floridian Insurance Co., according to archivedFLOIR data. Word of its market retreat came after the company's homeowners businessgenerated a direct incurred loss ratio of 334.7% in 2004 when hurricanes Charley,Frances, Ivan and Jeanne each made landfall in Florida. Nationwide Insurance Co.of Florida's homeowners book on a written premium basis peaked in 2006 at nearly$290.1 million before embarking on its steep decline.

QuarterlySupplemental Report data archived by FLOIR for the first quarter of 2009, the firstreporting period for which the data is available online, through the fourth quarterof 2015 shows that Nationwide Insurance Co. of Florida's books of owner-occupiedhomeowners, condominium unit-owners and tenant coverage, on a combined basis, haddeclined on a sequential basis throughout that time frame, from 122,133 policiesin force with associated exposure of $55.18 billion as of March 31, 2009, to 32,042policies in force with associated exposure of $10.70 billion as of Dec. 31, 2015.The geographic mix of business also shifted during that time, with owner-occupied,condo unit-owners and tenant homeowners policies in the south Florida counties ofPalm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade accounting for 11.3% of Dec. 31, 2015, policiesin force in those lines as compared with 25.4% as of March 31, 2009.

FLOIRdata ranked Nationwide Insurance Co. of Florida as the state's 39th-largest insurerof owner-occupied homeowners, condo unit-owners and tenant business, based on Dec.31, 2015, policies in force for individual entities, with market share of approximately0.70% as compared with a March 31, 2009, ranking of eighth and market share of 2.62%.The 2015 data excludesState Farm Florida while the 2009 data includes the State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co. affiliate.

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The rateof decline in the size of the book of business in terms of both policies in forceand the associated dollar amount of exposure was fastest on a sequential basis fromthe third quarter of 2010 through the second quarter of 2011. That time frame wasconsistent with the October 2009 newsthat Nationwide Insurance Co. of Florida intended to begin sending nonrenewal lettersto approximately 60,000 of its policyholders in the state during 2010.

NationwideInsurance Co. of Florida reported $34.9 million in net premiums written in 2015,down 7.2% from 2014. Direct premiums written fell nearly 10.4% to $42.2 million,which represented the company's lowest annual total since its formal launch. Writingin the management's discussion and analysis section of its 2015 annual statement, Nationwide Insurance Co. of Floridasaid the decline in direct premium volume was "primarily attributable"to what it described as a 7.2% homeowners rate decrease that took effect April 10,2015.

"Thecompany has a limited appetite to write new homeowners policies at the decreasedrate resulting in a net decrease in policies due to natural attrition exceedingnew policies written," the filing said.

The MD&Aand the notes to the Nationwide Insurance Co. of Florida annual statement also referencedthe new quota-share treaty, with the later section of the document adding that NationwideMutual would cede the business assumed thereunder into the Nationwide pool, of whichthe Florida-focused company is not a part. As the lead company, Nationwide Mutualassumed an 83% share of the pool as of year-end 2015, with Nationwide Mutual Fire Insurance Co., Scottsdale Insurance Co. and Farmland Mutual Insurance Co. holding shares of 12%, 4% and1%, respectively. Scottsdale Insurance, on a direct basis, reported $8.2 millionin Florida homeowners direct premiums written in 2015, and it was the only otherNationwide Mutual group member to generate direct premium volume in the businessline during that year.

Sevenadditional companies had been party to 100% quota-share reinsurance agreements withNationwide Mutual as of Dec. 31, 2015: ColonialCounty Mutual Insurance Co., NationalCasualty Co., NationwideAssurance Co., NationwideInsurance Co. of America, NationwideLloyds, Titan IndemnityCo. and Titan InsuranceCo.

Under a one-year agreement effective June 1, 2015, NationwideMutual provided coverage for 10% of $37.2 million of property catastrophe lossesabove a $12.9 million Nationwide Insurance Co. of Florida retention, with the providing coverage for the other 90% of losses within a similar layer, as well as100% of $32.4 million of property catastrophe losses above a $50.1 million attachmentpoint. The Florida company was also covered under Nationwide Mutual's national excessproperty catastrophe reinsurance program, which included the Caelus Re 2013-1 andCaelus Re 2013-2 catastrophe bonds.

NationwideInsurance Co. of Florida attached the new quota-share treaty by exhibit to the April7 rate filing, but it had been deemed "trade secret" and was not availablefor public viewing.

A Nationwidespokeswoman declined to comment on the company's Florida personal residential insurancemarket strategy, saying that "we do not have anything new to share at thistime."

Nationwidewas one of a number of national carriers to pull back from the Florida personalresidential property insurance market in the aftermath of the high catastrophe 2004and 2005 years. The State Farm and Allstate groups, for instance, generated Floridahomeowners direct premiums written in 2015 of 47.8% and 64.1% below their 2005 levels.The Florida homeowners writings for the Nationwide Mutual group as consolidatedby SNL over the same span plunged 82%.

The group'sFlorida private auto business volume and market share also eroded sharply between2005 and 2015. Nationwide Mutual had Florida private auto direct premiums writtenof $209.2 million in 2015, down 61% from the group's 2005 levels. That representedits steepest rate of decline in private auto direct premium writings in any stateduring the applicable time frame.