For nearly 16 years, Linda Marshall has enjoyed living in her Deerfield Beach home. It’s a place full of memories with her late husband.
“At my age, we live on memories,” she said.
It’s why Marshall wants to live there for the rest of her life.
“I want them to carry me out of here,” she said. “We’ve created an environment that we absolutely love.”
But Marshall told NBC 6 that her future there is uncertain because of rising property insurance premiums.
This year, she is paying about $1,300 more for a policy with a higher deductible. She pays her annual insurance in installments.
She didn’t have enough money to cover the first payment of the new, higher premium, and says that instead, she borrowed it.
Marshall is on a fixed income so she is also having to make difficult decisions.
“I have asthma,” she said. “I can’t afford my medicine.”
She says she is also limiting the social activities she used to enjoy.
“I’m not going out,” she said. “I’m not fixing things.”
Victoria Solomon has been a 911 dispatcher in Miami-Dade County for over 25 years. Her homeowner’s insurance premium jumped about $1,300 this year.
“How I feel is taken advantage of,” said Solomon, who lives in Miramar. “What I know is that it’s unfair.”
She said her premium has been steadily rising for years.
“It was not as significant as they are now, maybe $300, $400,” she said. “Now they’re going up a $1,000 a year.”
Solomon says the trend is troubling.
“The first thing that goes through my mind is: ‘am I going to be able to afford my house?’ I didn’t buy it to lose it,” she said. “I bought it to keep it.”
Solomon has tried to shop around for a lower premium.
“And the hoops they want to put you through in order to just get a quote was absurd,” she said.
Solomon was hoping to retire in five years, but she said the rising cost of protecting her home may make that challenging.
“That’s one of the reasons why I’m continuing to work right now,” she said. “I don’t know what the future holds and my income is decent enough for me to be able to afford it, but if I go on a fixed income, I don’t know what that would look like.”
According to the Insurance Information Institute, property insurance premiums in Florida are expected to jump 30-40% on average in 2022, with many likely seeing renewal increases well over 50%.
Consumers are also facing reduced options.
So far this year, two companies have become insolvent, leaving tens of thousands of homeowners scrambling to find new coverage weeks before the start of hurricane season.
“If we see significant hurricane activity during the upcoming Atlantic hurricane season, that will put significant pressures on Florida insurers,” said Mark Friedlander of the Insurance Information Institute. “As a result, we could see more insurers go insolvent.”
Lawmakers are expected to hold a special session later this month to address the challenges of Florida’s property insurance market after failing to take up the issue during the regular session.
“I think there’s going to be some tough love measures,” said State Senator Jason Pizzo, who represents District 38. “I think there’s going to be a lot of pressure from outside influences, whether it’s insurance companies and agents, whether it’s trial lawyers, all of whom have a valid claim, I honestly believe, against the other side.”
“If everyone comes out a little unhappy, that likely means that we got something done,” he added. “If anyone’s walking out of there high-fiving each other, then they got too good of a deal.”
If any new legislation is passed in the special session, Friedlander said it could take time to make a real impact.
“It’s not an immediate fix,” Friedlander said. “The way the marketplace works is it typically takes at least 18 to 24 months to see the results of change.”
That offers little comfort to homeowners like Linda, who worries about how she will pay the rest of her premium this year.
“I just want peace in my life,” she said. “I mean, I’m old but I’m happy.”
She said the stress over her home insurance premium is threatening that peace.
“I already had two strokes and I don’t want anymore,” she said. “I’m not gonna let them kill me. I want to fight them, but I don’t know who to fight.”
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