Florida homeowners seeing insurance premium hikes after Hurricane Ian

Reporter: Andryanna Sheppard
Published: Updated:

One of the most annoying things many of us have endured after Hurricane Ian is looking to slam your wallet once again.

From lackluster customer service, faulty claims, and not one cent seen by hundreds of people trying to rebuild, homeowners insurance has been everything except a walk in the park.

And the headache is not over.

Florida’s property insurance crisis has always been complex and usually not beneficial to the masses.

Now Hurricane Ian could do even more damage to your insurance premiums.

Vietnam veteran Richard Brown of Bonita Springs faces immense damage to his livelihood. His homeowner’s insurance premium has skyrocketed.

A Bonita Springs veteran is seeing a homeowners insurance price hike after Ian that could leave him without a home. (CREDIT: WINK News)

 “I have a small income with retirement,” Brown said. “I think they’re really taken advantage of people and I think it’s criminal.”

Brown has lived at his home for 20 years and trusted the property and casualty insurance of UPC to protect it.

He’s never filed a claim and said his last premium with UPC was about $1,500.

 “No catastrophes. Even with these last two hurricanes. I’ve had nothing. I have no flooding. And I just feel like I’m really drug over the coals,” Brown said.

After UPC went belly up earlier this year, about 90,000 of their policyholders were automatically switched to Slide Insurance, according to the state, including Brown.

That was fine until the renewal notice came in.

“The bill is still $6,117 a year now. And that’s overall, $600 A month payment,” Brown said. “The insurance payment is going to be more than all my other bills put together. And if I pay the insurance and my house payment, there’s nothing left for food.”

A Bonita Springs veteran is seeing a homeowners insurance price hike after Ian that could leave him without a home. (CREDIT: WINK News)

Brown said he is probably going to end up selling his home.

“My house was to leave to my daughters when I die,” he said. “I’m not going to have that now. And I mean, I don’t see any other alternative but to sell this house and move out of state. And that’s the last thing on the planet I want to do or ever thought I won’t even have to.”

Southwest Floridians have faced this problem for years.

Hurricane Ian made it worse.

Earlier this year, the Insurance Information Institute released a 2-page document discussing the trends and insights addressing the state’s property insurance crisis.

The industry-backed company projects homeowners will see their premiums go up 40% or more.

That’s much larger than the 9% the rest of the countries homeowners will have to budget.

“It’s not fair to people that work all their life, fought for their country, living a clean life and not having a problem to anybody and just mind your own business and pay your bills, and it’s just not fair to people like that,” Brown said.

WINK News reached out to Slide Insurance, asking why the big jump in price.

A spokesperson responded with some of the same reasons Florida legislators gave in the past two insurance special sessions: frivolous lawsuits, fraud, double-digit increases in home values and building materials, and record rate increases for reinsurance.

That’s insurance for insurance companies.

Ian destruction (CREDIT: WINK News)

The company also said, “UPC is in receivership because it did not charge adequate rates and did not purchase a full reinsurance program.”

Unlike UPC, Slide is solvent and purchases a full reinsurance program which ensures we can protect policyholders even in the event of a large loss event.

“I’ve lived here 20 years. But the kicker is I’m a Marine Corps veteran from Vietnam. And pretty much always you ever get, so thank you for your service. It doesn’t go any further than that. And just that, I serve my country and everything else. And this is what you get,” Brown said.

Now Brown waits for his insurance agent to find something cheaper so he can hopefully stay in Florida and in the place he’s called home for decades.

“I haven’t even slept. I’ve just worried about it. I’ve been on the phone,” Brown said. “This just had me crazy.”

Some lawmakers believe the new laws that came of out the two special sessions last year will help homeowners with the price of their premiums but not immediately.

It could take up to a year and a half.

A number of other bills passed through the legislature aimed at lowering the price to keep your home protected. Now they wait for the governor’s signature.

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