Hurricane Ian stressed Florida’s insurance market, which was already in crisis

Average annual premium in Florida is nearly 4 times the national average

KISSIMMEE, Fla. – April Higbie and her mother were one of many families who lived in the Dellwood Park community and forced to evacuate their homes during Hurricane Ian.

“This was one of the worst storms I’ve ever experienced,” Higbie told News 6.

Several homes in the community flooded during the storm.

Ada Nieves lives in the community and had never been through a storm.

“It was a very scary situation,” Nieves said. “When Ian was coming, we were more worried about winds. We never thought that we would be flooded with water in here.”

The water reached up to 2 feet in some rooms of her house.

The National Hurricane Center estimates Hurricane Ian did $1.9 billion in damage in Florida, stressing an insurance market that was already in crisis.

Since the storm, United Property and Casualty Insurance went out of business and Farmers Insurance dropped 100,000 policies and stopped writing new policies in the state.

In its 2023 Property Insurance Stability Report, the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation reports that 18 other insurers are being monitored by the state for solvency concerns.

Starting next month, the Florida Insurance Guaranty is adding a 1% assessment to policyholders to cover claims for insolvent companies.

Mark Friedlander is with the Insurance Information Institute.

“We have seen an increase in the number of Florida insurers that are reducing their risk,” Friedlander said. “What does that mean? Companies are non-renewing policies at the end of their existing term.”

Many Floridians have been dropped by their insurers, making insurance difficult to find and expensive when you do.

Before Hurricane Ian, consumers were already dealing with rising insurance costs, which News 6 has well documented.

In 2021, Pamela Kelley saw her rates double in one year.

“This is exorbitant, I mean this is unbelievable,” Kelley told News 6.

This year, the Insurance Information Institute estimates insurance increased 42% year-over-year with the average annual premium $6,000.

The average U.S premium is $1,700, 11% higher than last year.

The market is primed for rates to continue increasing.

In July, reinsurance, insurance for insurers, increased as well and those costs are typically passed along to consumers.

“We’ve seen some instances where Florida insurers had to pay 40-up to 70%- more for their reinsurance a year earlier and once again as you said that is a pass along cost,” Friedlander said.

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About the Author:

Emmy Award-winning reporter Louis Bolden joined the News 6 team in September of 2001 and hasn't gotten a moment's rest since. Louis has been a General Assignment Reporter for News 6 and Weekend Morning Anchor. He joined the Special Projects/Investigative Unit in 2014.