Giving Compass' Take:
- Jake Bittle explains how Hurricane Ian is driving up home insurance prices in Florida, decreasing housing affordability.
- What role can you play in increasing homeownership affordability?
- Learn why many Americans are forgoing federal flood insurance.
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When Hurricane Ian pummeled Florida last week, it left a stunning trail of physical devastation in its wake. Entire neighborhoods vanished beneath water, cities were shredded by 150-mile-per-hour winds, and thousands of people lost their homes overnight.
Though the storm has since dissipated, it will bring even more turmoil to the Sunshine State in the coming months — but this damage will be financial rather than physical. Ratings agencies and real estate companies have estimated the storm’s damages at anywhere between $30 and $60 billion, which would make it one of the largest insured loss events in U.S. history.
Wind damage is covered by standard homeowner’s insurance, and the payouts necessitated by Hurricane Ian’s extensive wreckage are likely to accelerate the collapse of the state’s homeowner’s insurance industry, driving private companies into bankruptcy and forcing thousands more Floridians into a state-run program with questionable long-term prospects. The process offers an early view of the way that natural disasters fueled by climate change threaten to upend regional economies.
Home insurance costs are poised to skyrocket for all Floridians — not just those who live in the places most vulnerable to major storms. The state will be forced to impose new taxes and penalties as it tries to keep the market afloat. New burdens will fall largely on low- and middle-income homeowners. For many working class Floridians, homeownership may become impossible to afford as a result.
“We already have a housing affordability crisis, and now we’re adding this new pressure,” said Zac Taylor, a professor at the Delft University of Technology who has studied climate risk in Florida and grew up in the city of Tampa. “Insurance is potentially the thing that is destabilizing homeownership — ironically, because it’s the thing that’s supposed to protect [homeownership] and make it possible.”
Read the full article about Florida’s home insurance market by Jake Bittle at Grist.