Gulf of Mexico
Burned rubble where a house stood after a power transformer exploded in the community of Signal Cove in Hudson, Fla., on Wednesday, after Hurricane Idalia made landfall.Miguel J. Rodriguez Carrillo / AFP - Getty Images

FL - Hurricane Idalia and Florida homeowners insurance: Survivors weigh the damage and the future

Homeowners face uncertainty amid the upheaval that has emerged in Florida’s insurance industry in recent years.

CEDAR KEY, Fla. — As cleanup begins in the aftermath of Hurricane Idalia, the storm has served as a stark reminder that Florida’s insurance industry remains in flux.

Idalia made landfall in Florida’s Big Bend just before 8 a.m. Wednesday as a Category 3 hurricane. It killed at least three people in Florida before it battered Georgia and other states on the East Coast as a downgraded tropical storm.

Idalia moved offshore Thursday morning, leaving around 330,000 customers without power in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina.

Powerful storms have regularly pummeled Florida’s coastal communities in recent years. The hurricanes have brought high winds, lashing rains and deadly storm surge. Idalia brought much of the same, and it has forced many homeowners to turn to their insurance policies in hope that repairing their homes and replacing their belongings might be covered.

But many of those homeowners face uncertainty amid the upheaval that has emerged in Florida’s insurance industry in recent years.


Three early lessons from Hurricane Idalia | Editorial

Tampa Bay Times / September 03, 2023

Hurricane Idalia likely mitigated red tide for the Tampa Bay area / September 01, 2023

Hurricane Idalia exposes storm surge concerns in Manatee County, residents fear for homes

Jesse Mendoza, Sarasota Herald-Tribune


A thinning insurance market that is beset by more regular hurricanes has caused insurance policy costs to skyrocket. An average home premium in Florida is about $6,000 per year, according to the Insurance Information Institute, an industry trade organization. The U.S. average is about $1,700.

The state’s insurance industry is preparing to lose four insurers since last year — among them: Farmers Insurance, Bankers Insurance and Lexington Insurance. Farmers Insurance announced just last month that it intends to leave Florida, affecting about 100,000 policy holders, and that it would not be writing new policies.

Still, it appears Florida is better-positioned to handle insurance claims than it was last year after the state’s insurers acquired adequate levels of reinsurance — a reimbursement system that insulates insurers from very high claims.

“With all the weather and hurricane events that have come through, the reinsurance market has hardened on the Florida insurance companies,” said Chris Draghi, who specializes in the state’s insurance market as an associate director at AM Best, a global credit agency. “That’s led to material increases and reinsurance costs, which, of course, then strain bottom line results to afford the same level of protections as in the past.”

That could mean that, as the costs for insurers rise further, Floridians’ premiums will be affected.

Gregory Buck, the president and owner of National Risk Experts Insurance, based in Florida, said that his company’s premiums last year were four times the national average but that those prices are largely based on reinsurers. He expects rates to increase further.

Read more.