Homeowner’s insurance rates on the rise in Florida

Around $400 — that’s how much Eleanora Valvo says her homeowner’s insurance renewal went up.

“I’ve never filed anything in all the years that I owned a home,” Valvo said.

The single mom is helping her sons through college, and the extra cost would be a burden, especially during a pandemic.

“When your salary doesn’t go up, but your bills are going up, how do you make ends meet? Valvo asked.

Why rates are rising

Mark Friedlander, with the Insurance Information Institute, calls the rate increase a Florida problem, and he says prices are going up for a few reasons.

One reason: Hurricane claims. Between hurricanes Irma and Michael, insurance companies are still receiving claims totaling billions of dollars.

“One of the things people don’t realize in Florida is you have three years to either file a claim after hurricane, amend a previous claim or even file a supplemental claim,” Friedander said.

Other reasons include the cost of reinsurance, or the insurance company’s insurance and litigation costs.

“There’s been a rash of lawsuits filed against insurers over the past several years for assignment of benefits. Basically, a homeowner turns over the claim to a third-party and the contractor then deals with the insurance company and there’s been a lot of lawsuits related to that,” Friedlander said.

Insurance Carriers who want to raise rates more than 15% in Florida have to hold a public hearing. This year, Friedlander said four companies had their price hikes approved, resulting in increases ranging from 21.9% to 33.5%. He adds, prior to this year, there had been no rate change requests in Florida that required a public hearing since 2013.

How much will rates rise and what can I do?

Deborah Dellinger-Crep, who owns Brightway Insurance Agency on College Parkway in south Fort Myers, said it’s going to be ugly in Florida for a while.

“We expect to see rates increase for the next three to five years,” Dellinger-Crep said.

She says some customers are facing on average a 14% to 15% increase, with others higher and lower.

“I saw one client, his premium went up $900, and that was quite shocking to myself,’ Dellinger-Crep said.

While it’s imperative to shop around, consider the age of your roof first. If it’s older, there’s a good chance the new carrier won’t cover you unless you replace it first.

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