Hurricane Ian places more strain on Florida’s insurance crisis

Hurricane Ian - A hurricane over Florida
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Last week’s massive storm could prove to be among the most expensive in the country’s history.

It remains too early to know precisely how much damage Hurricane Ian left behind as measured in dollars, but experts from Enki Research expect that the massive storm will likely have caused between $30 billion and $60 billion in damages and economic losses.

The storm struck the west coast of Florida at 150 miles per hour and smashed its way through the state.

The insurance industry currently predicts that it will face losses of about $20 billion at least, according to predictions released by Artemis. That said, it also forecasted that those covered losses could be as high as $40 billion. Hurricane Ian struck the state at about the same place as Charley did back in 2004, and the wind speeds were similar upon making landfall. That said, it is believed that the damage left behind from this most recent storm could be worse than the one nearly two decades ago.

Hurricane Ian - Image of Storm with palm trees

The reason is that last week’s storm was moving more slowly overall, giving it more time to creep its way across Florida, worsening the potential for damage from rain, flooding, and wind. Insurance companies were braced in advance of the storm and have been fielding claims and inquiries. They are preparing for the worst, as a part of an industry in the state that is already just clinging to survival.

Florida’s home insurance industry has already been faltering, and Hurricane Ian may make things worse.

Since January 2020, there have been over a dozen private insurance companies that have stopped doing business in the state. Since the start of this year alone, there have been six insurers declared insolvent. The finger has been pointed at the high rates of fraud and litigation in the state.

This has forced homeowners in Florida to have to fall back on Citizens Property Insurance Corp (CPIC), the state-backed insurer of last resort. Citizens was formed in 2002 as an option for Floridians who are otherwise unable to find affordable coverage – if any – through private insurance companies.

That insurer is now bloated with far more policies that it was intended to carry. That said, while it has a surplus of $6 billion, early modeling of Hurricane Ian’s damage suggests that it will see around 225,000 claims totaling about $3.8 billion in losses.

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