Homeowners insurance hard to come by during hurricane season

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Hurricane season is here, and if you're in the market for a new home, consider this: Many insurance companies aren't even offering homeowners insurance in Florida.

Not only will there be slim pickings for homeowners looking for coverage, local insurance agents also say premiums will continue to go up in northeast Florida.

Since 2004, insurance companies across the nation forked out about $40 billion in homeowner coverage claims due to hurricane damage. Jacksonville insurance agent Matt Carlucci says that payout is still affecting insurance companies today.

"It's like a ledger sheet. Our reserves are here, but if the amount of property you insure is up here, that's how much billions compared to the millions you have to do the repairs. And it really needs to be more like that," Carlucci said.

That's why many national insurance companies are backing out of homeowners coverage for Florida residents -- because of the costly risks.

"They're top-heavy in property, even though they have a lot of reserves," Carlucci said. "Those reserves can be wiped out in a three-hour storm, easy."

If you need homeowners insurance, there's still time, just fewer options.

"There are companies that are writing insurance, and they're new state domestic companies," Carlucci said. "They're not national companies. They're state companies and they're backed by state reinsurance."

Some local Realtors say the high coverage costs that come with hurricane season keeps some people from buying a new home during that time, slowing business. The president of the Northeast Florida Association of Realtors says the housing market in Florida tends to slow down around this time of year.

"We don't have much activity during the beginning part of the season," Carol Zingone said. "We typically pick up September, October, sometimes November."

If you're looking for home coverage, the time is now. Insurance companies will not write new polices on homes when a named storm appears.

"It should not be the last thing you do before closing," Zingone said. "It should actually be one of the first things you do after you get in a contract."

Hurricane season runs through November. For more information on agencies that are still offering homeowners insurance policies, click on the links below:

National Association of Realtors

Florida's Department of Financial Services

Citizens Property Insurance Corporation

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