Safeco Corporation has announced that it will no longer sell personal property insurance to customers in Florida as of July 2005. In 2006 the company says it will also stop renewing policies for existing customers in the hurricane-prone state.

The Seattle-based company has notified the Florida insurance regulations office of its plans to end its property policy renewal. The decision will apply to all of Safeco’s residential property policies, including homeowners, dwelling fire, renters and condominium insurance.

The affected business lines represent about one-eighth of Safeco’s business in Florida. The company has said that it will instead focus on the growing areas of auto, specialty and business insurance.

After months of careful consideration, we concluded that Safeco cannot effectively compete in Florida’s unique and complex personal property market with our standardized product approach, said Jim Swegle, vice president of Safeco’s Personal Lines Property.

Although Safeco represents just 0.6% of the Florida personal property market, with approximately 30,000 customers, the announcement has been made less than a week after it was announced that insurance premiums were set to rise in hurricane-prone states.

Last year’s devastating hurricane season, which caused $22 billion in insured wind damage alone in the US, has left insurance companies questioning the long-term sustainability of the Florida property insurance market.