Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company has announced that it will reduce its property exposure in Florida. The state's chief financial officer said he was "deeply concerned" by the move, which is expected to place more strain on homeowners in the hurricane-prone area.

Nationwide said it would not renew approximately 35,000 homeowners and 4,800 mobile home policies beginning March 2006. The Columbus-based company also stated it will cease to write mobile home policies or new personal property policies beginning September 2005.

As we continue to analyze our business strategy, it has become increasingly apparent that we are not comfortable with our current exposure in the Florida property market, said Jeff Rommel, regional vice president of Nationwide’s Florida operations.

While these are difficult decisions, we have an obligation to act in a responsible and thoughtful manner to ensure long-term stability for Nationwide policyholders in Florida and across the country.

Florida State’s chief financial officer Tom Gallagher said he was deeply concerned about the move, which follows Safeco’s sharp exit from the Florida property insurance market in July.

In light of the four hurricanes that struck Florida last year and the two that affected our state this year including Hurricane Katrina, there has been enormous strain placed on the homeowners and policyholders of this state, he said.

However, with Hurricane Katrina decimating much of the Deep South last week, US insurance companies have been forced to question the long-term sustainability of the Florida property insurance market.