Personal Finance

Homeowner insurance rates skyrocket in waterfront areas in the South

By some estimates, homeowners' insurance in Florida is set to increase by 66% in 2023.

Homeowner insurance rates skyrocket in waterfront areas in the South
David J. Phillip / AP
SMS

It's the beginning of hurricane season for people all along the Gulf Coast.

In Southeastern Louisiana, people are already feeling like they're underwater because of the rising cost of homeowners' insurance.

"Right now, we're in an insurance crisis," said China Baldwin, agent and owner of Above & Beyond Insurance Agency.

Baldwin is not just an agent but a homeowner too. She's watching customers get crushed by higher than usual policy premiums, including from the Louisiana Citizens Property Insurance Corporation, a state-owned safety net agency formed after Hurricane Katrina.

"I have a client that actually did walk away from her house just about two weeks ago," said Baldwin. "The rate increase began on January 1 of this year at 63%, so now you have people that were getting the higher rates last year, they're getting three times higher the rate this year, so it's just been one crazy whirlwind."

A recently released survey by Louisiana State University found nearly one in five homeowners say their policies were canceled by insurers last year, while 63%  said their costs rose.

Agents with whom Scripps News spoke said this situation is a perfect storm.

2021's Hurricane Ida bankrupted 11 of the state's insurers.

Researchers predict 'slightly below-average' 2023 hurricane season
Researchers predict 'slightly below-average' 2023 hurricane season

Researchers predict 'slightly below-average' 2023 hurricane season

Researchers say the 2023 quieter season may be attributed to El Niño.

LEARN MORE

The companies still in the state aren’t writing policies everywhere; many have pulled out of places in and around New Orleans, leaving Louisiana Citizens as the "insurer of last resort" to take on tens of thousands of homeowners who would have otherwise been left uninsured.

By law, the agency charges 10% more than the market rate.

Agents tell Scripps News that replacement costs are also up — so a $100,000 home could cost $200,000 to replace.

"It is difficult. The market is tight, not just in Louisiana but across the country; the insurance market is in a place it hasn't been before," said Kadra Taylor.

Taylor is the owner of KFT Insurance Agency in Gretna, a large city across the river from New Orleans. She says car and business insurance are also affected, on top of coverage for housing.

"Mortgage payments are increasing. Because of escrow, because of shortages caused by the insurance," said Taylor. "They're saying my house note has increased by $500, $600, $700. Because of the insurance. So, it's causing a lot of strain on families."

Taylor says the sudden increase has resulted in insurance bills coming in at $4,000 - $5,000, and even in the $12,000 range.

"You have so many older people that own their property. And they're on fixed incomes. So, it's like, OK, what are they gonna do? You know, that's the people I feel bad for," said Baldwin.

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards pushed lawmakers to approve millions of dollars in incentives for insurance companies to operate in the state.

But homeowner insurance rates are on the rise across the country; the online comparison site Insurify estimates a 9% jump in 2023.

In Florida, Insurify estimates a 66% increase.

Looking at your insurance policy under the microscope might uncover some potential savings. Baldwin says people may have coverage they don't need.

"Don't try and get the Cadillac if you only need a Mazda," said Baldwin.

Also, home alarms or upgrades to windows or roofs can bring discounts. Raising your deductible will also lower your monthly payments.