Hurricane Ian may have left Florida, but it’s not done inflicting damage on the Sunshine State.
Early projections estimate Ian will cost Florida’s insurance market between $30 billion and $50 billion at a time when the state’s insurance market is already on life support. The result will be higher costs for all Floridians.
While northeast Florida as a whole dodged a bullet with Hurricane Ian, John Ford’s home wasn’t so fortunate.
“It was just a big boom,” said Ford.
A large oak tree now lies on his roof, having poked a hole in the ceiling, allowing water into the frame of his home.
Still, Ford says he’s lucky.
“If it landed literally 10 feet that way, it’s over my in-law’s portion of the house,” said Ford.
Ford is insured, which is good news.
But the damage to Ford’s home is the least of Florida insurers’ worries right now.
“The market was gonna lose a billion dollars before this storm. So, you have to understand like, if there was a year that we didn’t need a storm it was this year,” said State Sen. Jeff Brandes (R-St. Petersburg).
Brandes has been raising red flags about the health of Florida’s property insurance market for years in the Florida Legislature.
Florida has seen six insurance companies go belly up this year alone.
Now with Hurricane Ian, Brandes expects that number to climb.
He anticipates companies that do stay in the Florida market will have to raise rates drastically to stay afloat.
Insurance rates in Florida have already doubled over the past four years.
“If I’m advising the governor right now, you know, give it a week or two and then you need to call a task force to really put together the solutions for Florida’s property insurance going forward or we’re essentially gonna have a middle class that’s priced out of property insurance in Florida,” said Brandes.
Ford told us the downstream costs of the storm could be a concern, but right now he’s focused on getting his home back to normal.
“What just happened down south is devastation. So, I expect things to rise, I expect things to have an effect, but you know, we’ll adjust,” said Ford.
Sen. Brandes said there is a silver lining as far as the insurance market is concerned.
If the storm had hit Tampa Bay as originally expected, it would have had a much greater impact on Citizens, the state-backed insurer of last resort.
Citizens insures more than one out of four homes in Pinellas County, which would have increased the potential for a hurricane tax to need to be levied on all policyholders throughout the state.
In Lee and Highlands, which took the brunt of Ian’s wrath, Citizens insures fewer than one in 10 homes.
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