WINK News viewers help Vietnam veteran keep his home amid homeowners insurance crisis

Reporter: Andryanna Sheppard
Published: Updated:

Homeowners insurance has proven to be an expensive nightmare for many throughout Southwest Florida. Now, with renewal notices coming in, so is the sticker shock. Thanks to many WINK News viewers, one Marine veteran can now keep his home.

Vietnam veteran Richard Brown has called his house in Bonita Springs “home” for more than 20 years. WINK News spoke to him at the beginning of May 2023.

“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,” Brown said.

Before Hurricane Ian, Brown’s premium with UPC was around $1,500. When the company went under, a different company took over his policy. That renewal notice came with a $6,100 price tag.

“I’m probably going to end up selling my home,” Brown said earlier this month.

After Southwest Florida saw the story, many emailed WINK News and our Consumer Reporter Andryanna Sheppard begging us to tell Brown to look into USAA’s homeowners insurance. The company offers policies, banking options and financial accounts to veterans, current military members, their spouses and family members. Andryanna relayed your messages and spoke to Brown again at the end of May.

“I found another insurance company, USAA. They wrote me a policy for $1,970, which is certainly less than $6,100. USAA basically saved my life,” added Brown. “I couldn’t afford $600 a month. I can afford this $100 a month. This house was bought and kept and paid for because it’s supposed to go to my daughter’s when I die. That’s pretty much all I’ve got to give them. With property values, it’s actually worth something. But if I sold it, where would I move? I want to be in Florida. I still have to pay that much somewhere else, start all over again with a high interest rate.”

“We are always happen when we can certainly help not only the military community, but all of their families,” USAA Spokesperson Rebekah Nelson said. “I will say with budgets tightening across the board for everybody, no one is alone.”

Nelson knows Florida is dealing with an insurance crisis. If you find yourself in the same position as Brown, she recommends that you go shopping for new insurance but make sure you have the right amount of coverage.

“You want to make sure that you are looking apples to apples and really making sure that you understand your insurance needs,” Nelson added. “USAA is certainly happy that we were able to help Mr. Brown, but everybody, if you’re considering, it’s really important that you understand the appropriate coverages for your specific needs.”

And do it now. Hurricane season begins June 1st.

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