Because Lighthouse Property Insurance Co. is domiciled in Louisiana, Florida’s insurance regulators probably won’t put the troubled company through the receivership and liquidation process in the Sunshine State.
But that doesn’t mean the Florida Insurance Guaranty Association will be able to avoid placing an assessment on other carriers to help pay outstanding Florida claims for Lighthouse. For now, FIGA is waiting on Louisiana regulators to liquidate the company and its Louisiana-based sister companies, and it’s too soon to know how much an assessment might be needed, said Corey Neal, executive director of FIGA.
“There’s no good indication of what liabilities FIGA might have,” Neal said Wednesday. “We’re working through all of that.”
The assessment for Florida insurers will likely be small. Lighthouse held just 13,200 policies in force in the state at the end of 2021, the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation has reported. But a Lighthouse surcharge could be the second or third this year for Florida insurers.
After the much-larger St. Johns Insurance Co., with 147,000 policies, was deemed insolvent in February, FIGA approved a 1.3% assessment on premiums, which will generate about $190 million, a cost that will be passed on to Florida policyholders. That followed a 0.7% surcharge on member insurers that began in January, needed to help cover the legacy costs of failed property insurers Gulfstream Insurance and American Capital.
Avatar Property Insurance, with about 38,000 policies in force, also was deemed insolvent this year, but it’s uncertain if an assessment will be needed for that company’s claims.
Insurance officials in Louisiana and Florida said that the body blow for Lighthouse appears to have been Hurricane Ida, which hit Louisiana in 2021 after three other storms had battered the state the year before. The number and severity of the claims caused the insurer to burn through its reinsurance coverage, leaving it with little surplus.
In 2020, Lighthouse Property Insurance Co. showed $204 million in assets, $160 million in liabilities, and $44 million in capital and surplus, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. But the carrier reported three straight years of net losses, including almost $72 million in 2020.
The Louisiana court order placing Lighthouse and its sister companies, including Louisiana-based Lighthouse Excalibur Insurance Co., into rehabilitation notes that a hearing will be held April 25 at 9:30 a.m. at the district court in East Baton Rouge Parish.
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