Florida insurers have a new business plan in the wake of Hurricane Ian: don’t pay out on homeowner policies

Most of the major home insurers – Allstate, etc. – have already pulled out of Florida. The smaller ones who’ve moved in and charged residents skyrocketing rates are, in the wake of Hurricane Ian, finding myriad and legally questionable ways to simply not pay for the damage wrought by that historic storm last September:

However, the American Policyholder Association, a nonprofit insurance industry watchdog group, disagrees. It said in a statement that it has found “compelling evidence of what appears to be multiple instances of systematic criminal fraud perpetrated to cheat policyholders out of fair insurance claims” and will be submitting criminal referrals to authorities “in Florida & several other states” in the coming months.

Four homeowners confirmed to The Post that they had received only a small portion of what they had been promised in their determination letters from Heritage and Florida Peninsula, or were struggling to get straight answers and considering taking legal action. Meanwhile, their homes are still heavily damaged or uninhabitable. And more than 33,000 Florida homeowner claims linked to Ian are still open without payment, while more than 125,000 were closed without payment, according to the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation. Nearly 56,000 claims were open with payment and 183,235 were closed with payment.

Florida’s insurance market has been teetering toward collapse for years. After destructive storms in 2005, several big carriers including State Farm pulled back coverage in the state, and newer, more thinly financed, smaller companies swooped in and began to operate. Then came 2017, one of the costliest hurricane seasons ever. Hurricane Michael battered Florida the following year.

Adjusters said they started to see carriers greatly reduce damage estimates, fully deny roof replacements more often and force claims of a certain value into litigation. Payouts started to get delayed or not come at all, adjusters and attorneys said.

At the same time, rates kept rising, and fast. Florida homeowners paid an average of $4,231 for home insurance in 2022, nearly three times the price in any other state — and rates are expected to increase again this year. Ten property insurers that operated in Florida have gone insolvent since January 2021. About 125 property insurers remain in the state, but experts said many are either not taking on new business or are greatly limiting policies because of the volatile market.

This is, of course, unsustainable in a climate where hurricanes are becoming more numerous and powerful with each passing season.

I’ve lost track of how many of my friends have moved to Florida.

I get why that happens for people who, unlike myself, find winters up north to be intolerable, especially as you get older.

I suspect there will be an increasing number of them who will eventually have to move out of Florida because they cannot afford to insure their homes, or they will suffer catastrophic losses in the killer storms to come.

Before Hurricane Ian (left) and after.

Leave a Reply