After back-to-back-to-back hurricanes a decade ago, many insurers fled Florida, leaving homeowners with a few, expensive choices. Today, the market is much healthier, competitive and homegrown. The turnaround came through local entrepreneurship in cooperation with the state's legislature, governor, cabinet, Florida Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR) and rating agencies.

Floridians need a healthy property insurance market. So do the independent insurance agents who need to offer their customers a choice of markets to place their homeowners insurance. Without it, the housing and real estate industries, which employ hundreds of thousands and contribute billions to the state's economy, would come to a halt because buyers could not qualify for conventional mortgages. Loans would be expensive and hard to come by.

That was the danger after the hurricanes of 2004-2005, as millions of Florida homeowners received nonrenewal notices from their longtime insurers. Big-name insurance companies significantly downsized their Florida operations in rapid succession, leaving longtime customers scrambling for coverage.

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