The factors that may be increasing insurance rates for Florida condo associations

Reporter: Chris Cifatte Writer: Matthew Seaver
Published: Updated:

It is a period of insurance insanity. Beyond all the people trying to collect money for Hurricane Ian’s damage, some people are getting next year’s bill.

One Southwest Florida condo complex saw a nearly 400% rate increase.

“We were told by our homeowner’s association that our rates would go up. Looks like about 400%. That seemed staggering to us,” said Dave Russell.

Staggering is right. It is a far cry from what long-time condo owners at Windjammer Village in The Landings, right near the Cape Coral bridge, are used to.

Dave Russel and WINK News anchor Chris Cifatte. (Credit: WINK News)

Dave Russell gave WINK News a tour of the area. He loves the grounds and the pool, but mostly, the friends.

“A lot of wonderful people here,” said Russell.

He’s worried now that he or his friends will get priced out.

The condo association’s insurance bill jumped from just under $300,000 annually to almost $1.2 million. That would nearly double everyone’s condo association bill.

“Well, it came shortly after the governor’s order that they needed to carry us for another two months,” said Rick Blackmon, the condo association president.

Blackmon says their carrier, Centauri, first tried to drop them right before Ian hit. Then, when Blackman pointed out that the governor forbade that, the new bill came.

“Oh, we’re not dropping you. We’re just going to increase your insurance by 400%,” said Blackmon.

“We have heard of many triple-digit increases. Fourfold increases are extremely rare,” said Mark Friedlander, with the Insurance Information Institute.

The reason might have less to do with Ian and more to do with another Florida catastrophe.

The Surfside building collapse. (Credit: WINK News)

“So something as large as Surfside is going to scare the market,” said Friedlander.

Friedlander says fewer companies are willing to write policies on condo associations, especially older buildings.

Add in hurricanes, and “It is something that the associations are going to have to take on and then pass the costs to their owners,” Friedlander said.

That’s already started. Windjammer made the first payment on their new million-dollar insurance bill because they had no choice.

Russell fears neither will his friends. “There are a lot of people that are going to be in pretty bad financial shape. I mean, a lot of people are going to have a lot of problems.”

As Ian and Nicole get priced in, that could get even worse.

There are a lot of older condo buildings around Southwest Florida, so are others seeing the same increase? Not that we can tell.

We found others seeing some increases up to 100%, but nothing like this.

Can the state help? If this increase isn’t in their approved rate structure with the state, they may be able to, but we’re still waiting to find out from the state if that’s true.

Centauri has not returned any of WINK News’ calls.

Windjammer, other agents, and lawyers challenge the idea that Surfside can be blamed for a 400% rate hike.

Lawmakers will hold a special session from December 12 to 16 to deal with the insurance problem in our state.

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