Buying, keeping homeowners insurance in Florida becoming an issue

Reporter: Zach Oliveri Writer: Jack Lowenstein
Published: Updated:

Buying and then keeping homeowners insurance in Florida is becoming an issue for thousands, and it’s forcing people to go a different route.

Insurance companies that do business in Florida are sending out notices to thousands of homeowners, letting people know their policies will not be renewed. That’s creating a lot of stress these days.

“Your home is your investment,” said Becky Ghrist in Rotonda West. “You know it’s a huge investment, and you work hard to have that, and you want to have it covered.”

Ghrist got her notice in May. Since that day, she’s searched for a new insurance provider. But the cost is too much for her to handle.

“In order to keep a similar coverage of what I had — prices are going up [$1,200], [$1,500] minimum. Some even more than that,” Ghrist said.

If companies aren’t dropping customers, they’re raising rates.

“Over the last three years, insurance carriers have been inundated with claims, and that has been because of Hurricane Irma,” said Cindy Palmquist, a licensed insurance agent.

Palmquist is taking calls from clients every day. Almost all of them are looking for a new homeowners policy. Lots of them can’t find one with a private company. That means they have to go to Citizens Property Insurance backed by Florida taxpayers.

“They’re growing at about 25,000 policies a month,” said Mark Friedlander with Insurance Information Institute. “We project by the end of 2021, they will be the largest property insurer in the state, and that’s not a good thing. Citizens is only meant to be a backstop for those who can’t get coverage in the private market. It’s not supposed to be an alternate for consumers.”

If a hurricane impacts the state in 2021, Florida homeowners might get stuck with a surcharge to make up for any losses Citizens suffers. That surcharge comes when premiums do not cover claims.

Because Citizens is backed by the state government, Florida law requires Citizens charge all of its customers a surcharge when there’s a deficit until it’s eliminated.

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