Florida home insurance woes keeping people from closing on houses

Tommy and Connie Friedrich found their dream house on a quiet street just blocks from…

Tommy and Connie Friedrich found their dream house on a quiet street just blocks from a serene lake. “St. Cloud has a real old-time feel,” Tommy Friedrich said.His wife Connie fell in love with the porch and started brainstorming how they could do some cosmetic renovations once they purchased the home. The Friedrichs placed an offer on the house, which they said the seller accepted. They ran into an obstacle, however, after they had their inspection. Friedrich said the inspection revealed the roof still had “three years left,” but he had a difficult time obtaining insurance because he said property insurance companies still cited the roof’s age as a concern. “I am unable to get property insurance without a new roof and I can’t get a new roof until I’m in the home and I’m really scared I’m going to lose the opportunity to buy this house,” he told WESH 2 Investigates.The Friedrichs are not alone. Not only are more and more homeowners across the state dealing with canceled insurance policies or pricy premiums, but now the state’s complicated insurance market is affecting people who are trying to buy or sell a home.The Friedrichs’ realtor, Barrett Spray, told WESH 2 Investigates more than half of his Central Florida clients have been running into home insurance obstacles.“If a roof is older than 15 years, you cannot get insurance in Central Florida. It’s impossible. No one will insure it,” Spray said.To make matters more complicated, there are fewer options for home insurance compared to just a few years ago. The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR) tracks when insurance companies discontinue operations in the state.Based on OIR’s reporting:7 property insurers discontinued operations in Florida in 2017.9 stopped operating in 2018.10 in 2019. A spokesperson for the department told WESH 2 News the numbers for 2020 wouldn’t be available until later this year. But based on these recent reports, there are 26 fewer options for homeowners to get property insurance.That number will grow for a variety of reasons, but roof replacement claims and litigation have been a recent concern.A property insurance law went into effect last year that supporters said would help, but homeowners across the state are still getting dropped from their policies or paying much more for their coverage.Florida Sen. Jim Boyd (R-District 21) sponsored that 2021 bill and said more needs to be done. “A few people on the other side of the coin are getting rich off of the backs of homeowners in Florida. So we’re going to fix it,” Boyd said. “We’re going to come at it again and I feel confident that after our next session we can get some reform because I think the appetite and the attitude is such that it will allow that to happen on both sides of the aisle.”Boyd and other state lawmakers will meet for another special session in Tallahassee from May 23 to 27 to specifically tackle property insurance. Until premium costs go down, Orlando Regional Realtor Association President Tansey Soderstrom advises people buying a home or looking for home insurance to bargain.“If they really love the home they need to think about maybe negotiating the price with their agent working something out so it’s beneficial for the seller as well or shop around for different insurance carriers,” Soderstrom said.After weeks of back and forth, Tommy and Connie were able to strike a deal to obtain insurance for their closing on the condition that they replace the roof within 30 days of the closing. Their premium would be $3,486.00 a year, but could go down after they pay for a new roof and another inspection. All expenses they have to incur on top of purchasing their house.“It’s insane. We are still stressed until the roof goes in,” Friedrich said.WESH 2 Investigates has covered a number of property insurance stories since last spring and will continue to monitor changes in Florida’s insurance market.If you have a story you’d like our investigative team to look into, email [email protected]

Tommy and Connie Friedrich found their dream house on a quiet street just blocks from a serene lake.

“St. Cloud has a real old-time feel,” Tommy Friedrich said.

His wife Connie fell in love with the porch and started brainstorming how they could do some cosmetic renovations once they purchased the home. The Friedrichs placed an offer on the house, which they said the seller accepted. They ran into an obstacle, however, after they had their inspection.

Friedrich said the inspection revealed the roof still had “three years left,” but he had a difficult time obtaining insurance because he said property insurance companies still cited the roof’s age as a concern.

“I am unable to get property insurance without a new roof and I can’t get a new roof until I’m in the home and I’m really scared I’m going to lose the opportunity to buy this house,” he told WESH 2 Investigates.

The Friedrichs are not alone.

Not only are more and more homeowners across the state dealing with canceled insurance policies or pricy premiums, but now the state’s complicated insurance market is affecting people who are trying to buy or sell a home.

The Friedrichs’ realtor, Barrett Spray, told WESH 2 Investigates more than half of his Central Florida clients have been running into home insurance obstacles.

“If a roof is older than 15 years, you cannot get insurance in Central Florida. It’s impossible. No one will insure it,” Spray said.

To make matters more complicated, there are fewer options for home insurance compared to just a few years ago. The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR) tracks when insurance companies discontinue operations in the state.

Based on OIR’s reporting:

  • 7 property insurers discontinued operations in Florida in 2017.
  • 9 stopped operating in 2018.
  • 10 in 2019.

A spokesperson for the department told WESH 2 News the numbers for 2020 wouldn’t be available until later this year.

But based on these recent reports, there are 26 fewer options for homeowners to get property insurance.

That number will grow for a variety of reasons, but roof replacement claims and litigation have been a recent concern.

A property insurance law went into effect last year that supporters said would help, but homeowners across the state are still getting dropped from their policies or paying much more for their coverage.

Florida Sen. Jim Boyd (R-District 21) sponsored that 2021 bill and said more needs to be done.

“A few people on the other side of the coin are getting rich off of the backs of homeowners in Florida. So we’re going to fix it,” Boyd said. “We’re going to come at it again and I feel confident that after our next session we can get some reform because I think the appetite and the attitude is such that it will allow that to happen on both sides of the aisle.”

Boyd and other state lawmakers will meet for another special session in Tallahassee from May 23 to 27 to specifically tackle property insurance.

Until premium costs go down, Orlando Regional Realtor Association President Tansey Soderstrom advises people buying a home or looking for home insurance to bargain.

“If they really love the home they need to think about maybe negotiating the price with their agent working something out so it’s beneficial for the seller as well or shop around for different insurance carriers,” Soderstrom said.

After weeks of back and forth, Tommy and Connie were able to strike a deal to obtain insurance for their closing on the condition that they replace the roof within 30 days of the closing. Their premium would be $3,486.00 a year, but could go down after they pay for a new roof and another inspection. All expenses they have to incur on top of purchasing their house.

“It’s insane. We are still stressed until the roof goes in,” Friedrich said.

WESH 2 Investigates has covered a number of property insurance stories since last spring and will continue to monitor changes in Florida’s insurance market.

If you have a story you’d like our investigative team to look into, email [email protected]