Florida home insurance premiums are devastating residents

Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

By Giselle Balido

October 20, 2023

Legislation signed by Gov. DeSantis has fueled the home insurance crisis in Florida, leaving homeowners struggling to find affordable policies and worrying claims won’t be approved.

When Arnaldo Pérez-Miró bought his lakeside property in a leafy South Florida neighborhood more than 17 years ago, he thought this would be the “little piece of paradise” where he and his wife would retire and see their grandchildren grow up.

Now, the 54-year-old accountant is looking to sell “as quickly as possible” and move to a place he and his wife can afford.

“My property insurance almost tripled. That is insane! How can I retire and afford almost $7,000 a year in home insurance?” Pérez-Miró told Floricua. 

Julisa Pizango doesn’t own a home. Ever since she came to the US from her native Perú 20 years ago, she has been renting the same two-bedroom apartment with her daughter in a quiet, working-class Kendall neighborhood. Yet Florida’s high property insurance rates have hit her hard, too. 

“My landlady told me that her insurance rates went up so high, that she either has to sell, or raise my rent,” Pizango told Floricua. “So, I have adjusted my budget, cut back on some necessities, and accepted the raise, because if she sells, I might have to move and finding a place I can afford in the same type of neighborhood that I live in is impossible right now.” 

 

RELATED: Farmers Insurance Pulls Out of Florida, Leaving 100,000 Homeowners to Scramble for Alternatives

 

Pérez-Miró and Pizango are not alone in seeing their housing costs surge. The average Florida homeowner is paying nearly $6,000 for their property insurance, which is over triple the national average of $1,700, according to the Insurance Information Institute (IIF), a US industry association dedicated to improving public understanding of how insurance works. In fact, since last year, insurance rates in Florida have increased by a whopping 42%.

Despite promises by the current state administration that property insurance prices will go down, a new report by Karen Clark and Co. (KCC), a Boston-based risk assessment and management firm, suggests that Florida’s insurance premiums are not likely to drop in the near future. 

“For me and my wife, leaving the home we love, where we saw our children grow, where we made memories, where we’ve celebrated every birthday, every Christmas, is heartbreaking,” says Pérez-Miró. “And it makes me angry. This isn’t fair. Somebody dropped the ball here!”

A dramatic rise

That somebody, many say, would be Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. Under the Republican’s watch, home insurance premiums have risen dramatically. The increases escalated after a special legislative session in May 2022, when Republican lawmakers approved a $2 billion reinsurance reserve which protects insurers from bankruptcy in the event of a cataclysmic event. Insurance companies usually buy such coverage on the open market, but DeSantis chose to use tax dollars to fund the reserve.

Despite the promise that this move would provide economic relief for consumers, costs for policyholders rose after the passage of the taxpayer-funded subsidy, and rate increases have outpaced any savings derived from the fund. 

 

RELATED: ‘It Has Come to the Point Where You Wonder if You Can Stay in This City,’ Floridians Ask as Prices Soar

 

DeSantis also signed legislation this year to shield insurers from lawsuits and shortened the period of time that homeowners can file claims with their insurers. It also removed the right of homeowners to recover attorneys’ fees, even in lawsuits they win. Critics say these efforts have worsened the home insurance crisis in Florida and left homeowners struggling to find affordable policies and worrying claims won’t be approved.

Follow the money

The insurance industry has been a major contributor to DeSantis over the years, as the watchdog group Hedge Clippers and other nonprofits pointed out in a report earlier this year, titled How Ron DeSantis sold out Florida Homeowners. The report argues that DeSantis’ industry donors have gotten their money’s worth, thanks to his administration’s policies. 

In fact, DeSantis’ campaign and his political action committee, Friends of Ron DeSantis, received a combined $3.9 million in contributions from insurance industry players between 

January 2019 and March of 2023. The total rises to more than $9.9 million, when including insurance industry donations to the Republican Party of Florida–which passed along millions of dollars to DeSantis’ campaigns between 2018 and 2022. 

A refusal to acknowledge the problem

The KCC report also points to scientific studies that signal an increase in major hurricanes as a major cause of the property insurance hikes. Florida has seen three major hurricanes in the last five years —Michael, Ian, and Idalia – but despite this, Gov. DeSantis refuses to acknowledge that the uptick of extreme weather events is due to climate change.

According to Maria Revelles, director of Chispa, an environmental movement that reflects the values of Latinos and other communities of color, “the far right is entangled with big business and their mega donors, listening to corporations, and passing legislation that favors special interests. This has gotten us where we are right now.” 

These factors have resulted in a growing number of insurance companies – including Farmers Insurance – fleeing the state, a move that is expected to affect 100,000 homeowners across Florida.  

Despite all these issues contributing to Florida’s prohibitive property insurance rates,  Florida lawmakers have said they do not expect major property insurance legislation this upcoming session.

Author

  • Giselle Balido

    Giselle is Floricua's political correspondent. She writes about the economy, environmental and social justice, and all things Latino. A published author, Giselle was born in Havana and grew up in New Jersey and Miami. She is passionate about equality, books, and cats.

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