PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — More and more people are finding themselves suddenly without home insurance.
Insurance companies are reportedly becoming less keen on doing business in Florida.
Most people would assume it’s because of the hurricane risk, but a local insurance broker said it’s actually because of fraud and litigation costs in the state.
Mark Gilland is a Bay County resident who found out he was no longer covered by his insurance with one days’ notice.
He said it could not have come at a more inconvenient time.
“When we received the notice that St. John’s was no longer our insurance company, before we even started looking into it, we were really concerned because we are approaching hurricane season,” Gilland said. “You gotta have insurance in place 30 days prior to a named storm being in the Gulf in order to receive coverage or reimbursement for any damages caused by that system.”
“Insurance companies are obviously very good at the rating for hurricanes and other disasters,” President of Hutt Insurance Agency Trey Hutt said. “What they are not very good at is rating for fraud, excessive litigation, that kind of thing. That’s why so many companies have lost money and they are finally getting out.”
Hutt said only about eight percent of claims money is going to homeowners, and the rest is going to attorneys… and fraudsters.
“For example, there are cases where a homeowner might win $10,000 to $15,000 in a lawsuit, but the law firm involved can make $200,000 to $300,000,” Hutt said. “That’s not money that’s going back to build someone’s house. That’s just money that’s raising all of our rates.”
And the skyrocketing rates are troubling for Gilland, who is trying to retire.
“We’re really concerned especially about the cost because it’s going to cost a lot more,” Gilland said. “We’re getting ready to retire and now we’ve got not only inflation going up, cost of services going up, now cost of insurance going in our lap.”
Hutt said his best advice would be to make sure to do your homework when shopping out a new insurance agency so you don’t get burned.
He also said to get wind mitigation and four-point inspections before going shopping.