(WSVN) – We know insurance premiums are sky-high in Florida, but now industry insiders say people living here may not be able to get insurance at all. 7’s Karen Hensel shares more in today’s episode of our commissioned report, “Paradise Lost.”
As insurance premiums skyrocket, many homeowners are making expensive repairs in hopes of lowering their bills.
Francisco Landaeta: “We have a new roof. We have hurricane windows and doors, and those are things they pay attention to. They didn’t matter.”
Francisco Landaeta says even after spending thousands of dollars, his interest rates are four times higher than before.
Francisco Landaeta: “Not long ago we were paying $900 and now we have gone up to $3,600. So it’s a huge increase.”
Ronnie Mackliff bought his house two years ago. He fears he will have to move because he can’t afford his premium, which has risen from $3,264 to $4,589.
Ronnie Mackliff: “It just gets to a point that we can’t control.”
And one of the main reasons our rates are rising? Hurricanes.
Chuck Nyce/FSU: “And it will always be a factor in pricing.”
Hurricanes like Irma, Ian and Michael caused billions of dollars in damage.
Last year, six insurance companies didn’t have the money to pay for damages from these severe storms.
Several others left the state or limited the number of policies they would write.
Chuck Nyce/FSU: “If we’ve lost these companies that have either become insolvent or decided they no longer want to do business in the state of Florida, that means less competition.”
And reduced competition leads to higher prices.
Walter Wyatt: “I had some sleepless nights because I wasn’t sure if I would find any or find any that I could afford.”
Walter Wyatt paid $7,000 for his policies with the state-run Citizens Insurance. But after Citizens fired him, he spent weeks trying to find a new company that could insure him.
Walter Wyatt: “I’ve had everyone working for me and received offers between $20,000 and $40,000 a year, which is just completely unaffordable. The last agent I contacted was able to get me a policy and it still hurts. It’s $15,158 a year.”
Citizen-written policies tend to be lower, but the company is laying off hundreds of thousands of homeowners to reduce its financial risk.
Ronnie has just received notice that Citizens will not be renewing him. Private insurance costs him 20% more.
Ronnie Mackliff: “We have worked so many years on our dreams and worked so hard to earn what we have today and we want it to stay that way, but I don’t think it’s possible with these forecasts.”
Francisco also wonders if leaving Florida is the only solution.
Francisco Landaeta: “What if we looked at another state, something that was cheaper so we had more options?” Yes, that was on our minds.”
Some say Florida residents may not be able to get insurance at all.
Chuck Nyce/FSU: “So I’m worried about the future of insurance in the state of Florida. There will be long-term consequences for the state if we don’t find a way to protect homes, prevent damage and ensure the private insurance market works.”
Homeowners aren’t the only ones feeling the pinch of insurance. Tomorrow we’ll look at how insurance and other issues could spell the beginning of the end for condominium associations.
Karen Hensel, 7News.
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