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The Perfect Storm: Hurricanes, Insurance, and Regulation

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The intense hurricane seasons of 2004 and 2005 caused considerable instability in property insurance markets in coastal states with the greatest problems occurring in Florida and the Southeast. Insurers have substantially raised rates and decreased their exposures. While no severe hurricanes struck the United States in 2006 and 2007, market pressures remain strong given the high risk still facing coastal states. These developments generate considerable concern and controversy among various stakeholder groups. Government responses have varied. In Florida, political pressures prompted a wave of legislation and regulations to expand government underwriting and subsidization of hurricane risk and constrain insurers' rates and market adjustments. Other states' actions seem more moderate. In this context, it is important to understand how property insurance markets have been changing and governments have been responding to increased catastrophe risk. This article examines important market developments and evaluates associated government policies. We comment on how regulation is affecting the equilibration of insurance markets and offer opinions on policies that are helpful and harmful.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2009-03-01

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