Insurance Companies Halting Florida Policies As Hurricane Irma Looms

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Are you a Floridan trying to insure your car before the big storm? Good luck with that.

Remember the line, "It's nothing personal, just business?" It appears in just about every mobster movie, including The Godfather. Usually you'd peg those shady trench coat-wearing types as the ones who say that and not Flo from Progressive, but according to the latest from Bloomberg, the overly cheery insurance agent and some of her competitors are cutting insurance policies for new car owners in the path of Hurricane Irma, all in the name of doing business.

A new report by the financial news spout claims that insurance companies like Progressive and Allstate have stopped issuing insurance policies on new cars as Hurricane Irma, the most powerful Atlantic storm ever recorded, approaches the Florida coast. Existing policy holders are still protected against the storm as long as their respective policies cover hurricane damage, but this move on the part of the auto insurance companies, made in response to the damage done when Hurricane Harvey battered the Texas coast last month, is bound to hurt the bottom lines of Florida dealerships looking to move as much inventory as possible before Irma comes through and forces them to lose days that could otherwise be used to sell cars.

Ted Smith, the president of the Florida Automobile Dealers Association, is anything but happy. "If you take us out of business for a week before a storm even hits and maybe a week after, you can imagine the impact, not just on consumers who are inconvenienced but the state's economic resources," Smith said. "I'm urging through our public officials that they talk to these insurance companies and make sure they follow the policy of State Farm -- wait until there's imminent danger before you stop writing cars." To lend a fair and balanced ear to the insurance companies, it's important to note that Hurricane Harvey, which was a category 3 storm when it hit Texas, caused $10 billion in claims according to FBR & Co.

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If Hurricane Irma, currently a category 5 storm, strikes Florida and is as damaging as it's expected to be, that number could quickly be dwarfed. Regardless, saving one's skin as a result of "just doing business" is never a good argument on the moral side of things. Too bad the insurance companies aren't on the same boat as the automakers, which stand to make up for lost sales by offering hurricane victims discounts.

REUTERS/Adrees Latif

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