JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — While Hurricane Idalia may be in the rearview mirror, the damage it caused will be felt for months, if not years, in the hardest hit communities.
The storm has regenerated conversations about the impacts of climate change and how those impacts will affect the property insurance market.
In response to a recent survey conducted by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, at least five major insurers indicated climate change is impacting the way they do business.
Allstate, American Family, Nationwide, Erie Insurance Group and Berkshire Hathaway reported extreme weather has resulted in the halting of coverage in some regions, increases in deductibles and even led to the exclusion of damage caused by natural disasters from their policies.
“All insurance companies need to assess their risk appetite to determine what type of risk they’re willing to write and could they charge the appropriate rates for that risk,” Mark Friedlander with the Insurance Information Institute said.
But as far as Florida is concerned, Friedlander noted of those five companies, only Allstate and Nationwide write policies in the state, and they make up tiny percentages of the state’s market.
“Our quick takeaway is this will have no direct impacts on Florida,” Friedlander said.
Friedlander argued even if Nationwide and Allstate wanted to stop writing hurricane coverage, for example, it’s unlikely state regulators would allow that to happen.
“We’re not aware that they have asked for any changes of this nature to the polices in Florida,” Friedlander said.
Florida is no stranger to insurance woes, with the market fumbling after major storms like Matthew, Irma, Michael and Ian.
Over the past two years, 15 carriers have stopped writing new policies, seven have gone defunct and three have pulled out of the market.
But Friedlander pointed out that with four new insurers being approved to do business in the state this year and recent interest from private insurers looking to absorb policies from Citizens, the state-backed insurer of last resort, there are positive signs in the market.
“Once these companies start writing business, go to your insurance agent. Ask them to shop these new companies. You might be able to get better coverage for a better price with new companies entering the market. It’s very good news for consumers when we have more choices,” Friedlander said.
And Friedlander cautioned while there have been some signs of improvement, Florida’s insurance market is still very volatile.
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Idalia was a storm the market was positioned to withstand, but additional storms this season could change the dynamic.