Climate Juiced Storms Jack Up Florida Home Insurance Bills

March 31, 2021

And it’s barely getting started.

WPTV:

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — The cost of homeowners insurance in Florida is going through the roof. Residents who say they have never filed a claim are getting hit with huge rate hikes.

Steve Eppley of Boynton Beach received quite a shock this month from his homeowner’s insurance provider.

He was hit with a $1,000 hike in one year for a home he’s owned since 2006, and he has never filed a claim.

“I calculated it to be a 52 percent increase,” Eppley said. “It’s not fair. What they’re doing isn’t fair.”

What happened to Eppley isn’t uncommon.

Homeowners insurance companies across the state of Florida are giving bad news to their customers with rate hikes between 20 to 50 percent.

Tasha Carter, Florida’s Insurance Consumer Advocate, said as many as 90 companies operating in the state filed for rate hikes last year. 

Two primary reasons appear to be recent storm damage in the state and rising fraud.

South Florida Sun Sentinel:

Insurers, however, are subjecting American disbelievers to an expensive jolt of reality, raising the cost of homeowner insurance to cover the escalating risks associated with climate change. It matters not a whit that a particular property owner refuses to believe that spewing 38 gigatons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year has disastrous consequences. Believe it. Deny it. Either way, the bill for living in a community vulnerable to the effects of global warming – especially coastal Florida – is coming due.

Nowadays, pretending the climate has not gone haywire requires a tenacious state of oblivion. Never mind that South Florida streets flood on sunny days; that the National Hurricane Center has turned to the Greek alphabet to name this season’s 25-and-counting tropical storms; that this summer’s wildfires burned through four million acres of California’s drought-parched woodlands; that a strange and frightening 100-mph derecho windstorm devastated close to a million acres of Iowa cropland in August; that nine of the ten hottest years on record occurred in the last decade; that 2020, so far, has sweltered in the highest temperatures in recorded history.

A declaration signed last year by 15,364 scientists from 184 countries warned, “Soon it will be too late to shift course away from our failing trajectory, and time is running out.”

Reinsurance companies who underwrite retail insurers simply can’t afford to ignore the link between warming temperatures and ever-more-expensive, ever-more-costly catastrophes caused by superstorms, wildfires, inland and coastal flooding. Risks have increased, financial losses multiply, so up goes the price of reinsurance. The Sun Sentinel reported last week that 46 Florida property insurance companies suffered combined losses of about $400 million a year from 2016 to 2019. The companies lost $454 million in just the first six months of 2020 with an expectation of even more brutal numbers when the stormy third quarter results are calculated.

The Sun Sentinel reported that reinsurers had jacked up underwriting rates by 20% to 30% earlier this year and plan another hefty jump in 2021. Consumers face increases of 30% to 40%, with no discounts for property owners who embrace the Trumpian theory that climate change is a hoax.

Ernst Rauch, chief climatologist for Munich Re, the world’s largest reinsurer, told The Guardian newspaper that given the increasing intensity of wildfires, flooding and storms, “The only sustainable option we have is to adjust our risk prices accordingly.”

In February, Swiss Re, the world’s second largest reinsurance firm, reported that global insurance losses “have been rising due to rapid development in areas exposed to severe weather and warmer temperatures.”

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