JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Homeowners in the state of Florida, who were already paying nearly triple the national average for property insurance, will be forced to pay even more after Hurricane Ian. Damage costs right now are somewhere between $30 - $50 billion according to early estimates.
Florida’s home insurance market was already crippled before the hurricane hit. Insurance experts say the storm could force more insurance companies into insolvency.
″I heard the crackling sounds, but then when I heard the tree fall, I jumped up off the porch and ran out here,” Northside resident Eugene Blutcher said.
Blutcher said the tree that fell on his Northside home punctured a hole in its roof, also damaging the attic and a bathroom. The property owners are now just like thousands of others across the state, relying on their property insurance company.
“They are going to put it in the hands of the insurance company to see what they are going to do,” Blutcher said
Even though Hurricane Ian’s winds and rains didn’t damage every Floridians’ home, insurance agents are calling it a direct hit to the states unstable home insurance market.
Right now, the U.S. average for home insurance is $1,544 a year, according to the Insurance Information Institute
Compare that to what the average Florida homeowner pays a year in property insurance -- $4,231.
In the wake of Hurricane Ian’s damage, insurance agents warn, that next year’s premium will be inflated again to cover the states historic losses.
″There are going to be some rate increases to our insurance premiums,” Sean Way, Owner of We Insure agency said. “As independent agents, we do have multiple markets, which we are able to shop for coverage.”
Way said some insurance companies may experience additional challenges trying to stay afloat once the final damage estimates are tabulated.
Six insurance companies in Florida have gone out of business since 2017 without responding to a hurricane, and four more are in the process of liquidation -- according to Bankrate, a consumer financial services company. The Office of Insurance Regulation has another dozen on its watch list. Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis however is remaining optimistic that recent insurance regulation changes will help to stabilize Ian’s impact.
″The state of Florida right now is the best it’s ever been financially,” Patronis said. “We have $20 billion in reserves, a state guarantee fund that’s there to help if there is insolvency, and we’ve created a unique relationship with citizens insurance as another backstop, so there are a number of solutions for those carriers doing business in the state of Florida, but we can always improve the environment.”
Insurance agents make it a point to stress that flood damage is not covered by homeowners policies, and if you didn’t purchase a separate flood insurance policy, your only other option is to file a claim with the National Flood Insurance Program operated by FEMA. If you had damage to your property, document everything with video and pictures, and contact your insurance agent before getting a tree removed off your roof, or water pumped out of your home.