With extreme weather comes extreme insurance premiums for homeowners


Keeping homeowners insurance has become an increasingly tough task for millions of Americans, particularly those who live in the growing number of areas around the country prone to natural disasters.

Major insurance companies, including Allstate and State Farm, have stopped renewing policies in extreme-weather states like California and Florida, forcing residents there to find another insurer at a higher premium. AAA last year also decided not to renew some policies in Florida, a state that has seen an increase in powerful storms and coastal flooding. 

Homeowners depend on their insurance policies to help with the steep price of paying for damages to their property in the event of accidents and bad weather. But insurers say they’re backing out of certain states because the chance of extreme damage from  flood, hurricane or fires makes it too expensive to insure residents. 

The remaining insurers, meanwhile, have opted to increase their rates. Travelers Insurance, for example, got the OK from California state regulators this week to raise homeowners’ rates an average 15.3%. The rate change will impact more than 320,000 Californians who have Travelers coverage now, according to documents the company filed with state regulators. 

Travelers said in the state filing that it sought to raise rates in part because of “changing climate conditions.” 

“The approved adjustments to our California homeowners insurance rates are a necessary step toward aligning pricing to the risks that our customers are facing,” the company told CBS MoneyWatch in an emailed statement. 

Americans pay an average $2,153 a year, or $209 a month, for homeowners insurance, according to insurance industry data provider Quadrant Information Services. Florida’s average annual price leads the nation at $6,366 while Californians on average pay $1,452, according to Quadrant. 

But a homeowner’s premium often increases after switching providers, Matthew Eby, the founder and CEO of First Street Foundation told CBS News. After a homeowner gets dropped from their previous insurer, they typically discover their previous policy did not cover wildfire or flood damage, Eby added. 

“They go to find a new policy and find out that they’ve not been paying the right price,” he said. “The new price that is commensurate with risk can be 2, 3 or even 4 times higher than what they’ve been paying previously.”

To be sure, Californians and Floridians aren’t the only ones facing homeowners insurance woes. A January survey from Deloitte found that homeowners in 19 other states — including Louisiana, South Carolina and Texas — are seeing “shrinking coverage options and skyrocketing costs of their residential insurance policies.” 

Not all insurers are upping rates or leaving states, the Deloitte survey found. Some providers offer homeowners cheaper prices if they take steps to protect their home from disasters.

“Some private insurance carriers in Florida, for example, are offering discounts to policyholders that fortify their homes against hurricane-force winds by strengthening and securing roofs and shutters and reinforcing garage doors,” the company said.



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