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Steep homeowners insurance rate hikes on the way

Claims from Hurricanes in 2017, 2018 cited for multi-million dollar losses to insurers
Posted at 10:24 AM, Aug 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-08 10:24:44-04

JUPITER, Fla. — Florida homeowners are in the cross-hairs of private insurance companies as many are raising property insurance premiums to offset record losses.

Some homeowners are feeling sticker shock.

“I don’t think we have a choice because we need the insurance,” says Heidi Epstein, who owns half a duplex in Jupiter.

The Florida Department of Insurance allowed some companies to raise premiums from 12-40% but Epstein’s rates may double.

Her insurer will soon stop doing business in Florida.

She says the best she can do is a policy that will cost her $1,500 more a year and it comes when her home cleaning business is struggling.

“In the middle of a pandemic, when everyone’s not sure what they’re finances are going to be like,” said Epstein. “This is not the time to have everything sky-high.”

“The insurance market needs to be stable, so that they are prepared to pay claims when a major loss hits again,” said Mark Friedlander, the Communications Director for the Insurance Information Institute. The III is a non-profit institute that collects data and analyzes insurance information for agents and consumers.

Friedlander says the rate hikes stem from the millions in industry losses, triggered by billions in insurance claims from Hurricane Irma in 2017 and Hurricane Michael in 2018.

Neither hurricane threatened Palm Beach County or the Treasure Coast.

“Insurers spread risks,” says Freidlander. “So when an insurer writes coverage in Florida, it includes all of Florida, so they need to spread that risk across the state.”

“We have never filed a claim,” countered Heidi Epstein. “We’ve never lost a shingle here in any of the hurricanes.”

Heidi Epstein expected a modest increase in premiums.

But she and many others feel the timing of these steep rate hikes could not be worse.