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Florida Hurricane Insurance System in Better Shape Should Luck Run Out

Florida property insurers are warning residents that a major hurricane is likely this season given the state’s history of storms. At the same time, the industry says the state-backed catastrophe reinsurance fund, the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund, and the state’s property insurer, Citizens Insurance, are in better shape now than they were a year ago but financial shortfalls still exist.

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Customer Satisfaction Up For Auto Insurers

Overall customer satisfaction with auto insurance companies is up in 2009; however, rising rates associated with the onset of a hard market could lead to a negative perception among consumers, J.D. Power and Associates said. In its recently released 2009 National Auto Insurance Study, J.D. Power and Associates noted that auto insurers have seen a five-year high in customer satisfaction for 2009, driven primarily by low premiums. Auto insurers averaged 801 on a 1,000-point scale, J.D. Power and Associates said, up by 14 points from 2008. More than one-half of the 32 companies ranked in 2009 have improved significantly year over year, according to the survey, with price being the “most notable” factor contributing to overall satisfaction. In 2009, 42 percent of customers reported their premiums decreased without the customers switching to another insurer.

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Online Searches For Health Insurance Info Jump

If you lose your job, you probably lose your health insurance, and that means looking for ways to extend it or replace it. Internet tracking firm comScore says online searches for the word “COBRA” have almost tripled in the last year. Searches for Medicaid information have almost doubled. “COBRA” stands for the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, which gives workers and their families who lose their health benefits the right to continue group health benefits provided by their group health plan. At the same time, comScore says traffic to actual health insurance and HMO sites has declined sharply, as workers lose their benefits. The biggest declines were at UnitedHealth Group, which saw unique visitors to its sites decline 29 percent from June 2008 to June 2009. Visits to Aetna’s sites dropped 12 percent over that same period, and fell 11 percent at WellPoint Inc. Sample search terms that have seen significant gains include “COBRA,” up 176 percent from June 2008 to June 2009, “Apply for Medicaid,” up 104 percent and “Health Insurance Quotes,” up 45 percent. Search terms often lead to sites that sell individual heath care coverage or offer information about it. ComScore (NASDAQ:SCOR) says sites that have seen growing traffic include USInsuranceonline.com, AssurantHealth.com and eHealthinsurance.com.

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