Insurance Companies Seize Thousands of Homes in the Sunshine State As Florida is No Longer Affordable

By: Beth Moreton | Last updated: May 22, 2024

Those who have lived in Florida their entire lives, or even just over the last few years, have never seen such rising insurance costs to the point where people are being forced out of their homes.

This used to happen once every so often. However, with insurance premiums going up at an alarming rate, this has led to tens of thousands of homes being seized by insurance companies and leaving its inhabitants with nowhere to go. 

Florida’s Residents Are Living in Cars

The situation with insurance premiums rising has got so bad that residents in Florida are being forced to live in their cars as they cannot afford to live anywhere else.

An aerial view of Florida houses. Some of the houses have pools in the garden.

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Even retirees are no longer choosing to live here. The Sunshine State was once home to many retirees from all over the U.S., but they are now choosing to live out the rest of their years elsewhere in more affordable places. 


Florida’s Insurance Companies Are Dropping Customers

Around 70% of Florida’s residents are struggling with rising home insurance premiums, especially as they are also expected to pay for food costs, mortgages and car insurance, which are also rising in price.

An aerial view of a house in Florida. The house has a pool, and a body of water is directly behind it with a boat parked in the jetty. Three cars are parked on the drive at the front of the house.

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It has reached the point where 12% of Florida’s homeowners have said that their home insurance companies have dropped them, with many now being forced to relocate because they worry that they can no longer afford to live there. 

Real Estate Investors Have Warned About Rising Insurance Prices

At the beginning of the rise in home insurance prices in Florida, its real estate investors had warned of this happening, and have said that it will prevent potential buyers from even securing a mortgage.

An aerial view of some houses on a street in Florida. Some of the houses have pools in the garden.

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They have also warned that prices will continue to rise throughout the rest of 2024, which could mean that those living in hurricane- and wildfire-prone areas cannot afford to do so. 

400% Increase in Florida’s Insurance Premiums

Florida’s insurance premiums have gone up so much that many homeowners are facing a 400% increase. The 2019 average was $1988; however, in the first quarter of 2024, that had gone up to $8777 per annum. 

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Due to this sharp increase in such a short period of time, many owners have struggled to cover their insurance premiums. As they cannot pay, insurance companies have seemingly had no other choice than to kick them out of their homes. 

The Effect on Florida’s Real Estate Sector

Rising insurance prices don’t just affect the homeowners’ ability to pay, but also the real estate sector.

Houses on a street in Florida. Trees are growing outside the houses.

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Those who are trying to sell their homes, especially those in hurricane- and wildfire-prone areas, cannot find a buyer for their house as no one can afford the mortgage and high insurance prices. 


Public Insurance Companies Are Raising Prices

It would be easy to assume that private insurance companies are the only ones raising their prices to make a profit. However, the public insurance companies are also raising their prices.

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One Florida homeowner initially had private insurance until the premiums got too high, so he switched to public insurance. However, the public insurance company’s prices increased, so he switched back to private insurance. 


Insurance Companies Are Paying Republicans

In December 2022, Florida’s Republican party passed a property insurance bill set to completely overhaul insurance. Insurance lobbyists and executives greatly received it.

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Source: Republican Party/Wikimedia Commons

Many of Florida’s insurance companies contributed to the Republican campaign and spent a great deal of money on it. One insurance company has given $1 million to Florida’s Republicans since 2022. 


Florida Has One of the Highest Rates of Lawsuits

At present, Florida only accounts for 9% of home insurance claims across the U.S. However, it has somehow managed to account for 70% of home insurance lawsuits in the U.S.

A black and silver gavel lying against a black block.

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This is likely all due to the high insurance prices in Florida. As insurance companies are going so far as to drop their customers at a moment’s notice, it’s no wonder the insurance lawsuits are as high as they are.


Insurance Companies Are Leaving Florida

One of the main reasons house insurance prices are increasing so much in Florida is that many insurance companies have either liquidated or chosen to leave the Sunshine State.

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Due to the high number of lawsuits Florida’s insurance companies have faced in recent years, many want to get out of this, which is why they have left. The lawsuits have caused the companies to face net underwriting losses of $1 billion. 


Florida Has the Highest Insurance Rates in the U.S.

At what will likely come as a devastating blow to those living in Florida, they currently have the highest home insurance rates across the whole of the U.S. The average Florida insurance price is $6366, with the next highest being Louisiana at $6140.

An aerial view of a Florida coastline. The sea is on one side, and a river is on the other.

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This is in comparison to states like Vermont, whose average annual home insurance price is $806, making them the cheapest in the whole of the U.S. Next to that is West Virginia at $952. 


Will Florida’s Home Insurance Come Down Anytime Soon?

Florida homeowners are now waiting in the hope that their insurance premiums will not rise further and will start to see a decrease sometime soon. But is that actually going to happen?

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Florida’s lawmakers have implemented some measures that they claim will decrease insurance premiums. However, it will likely take a few more years until these savings come to fruition. Until then, homeowners will have to try and see where they can make savings elsewhere and hope that they are not one of many whose home is seized by their insurance company. 


The Impact on Florida’s Rental Market

As homeownership becomes increasingly unattainable, more residents are turning to rental properties, causing a significant surge in demand. This spike has driven up rental prices, adding further financial strain on Florida residents.

A sign that says 'For Rent' hanging in a window.

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The quality of available rental housing is also under pressure, with many renters ending up in substandard conditions as landlords take advantage of the high demand.


Climate Change and Insurance Premiums

The rising frequency and severity of hurricanes and wildfires, linked to climate change, are driving up insurance premiums in Florida. This connection makes securing affordable insurance nearly impossible for many homeowners.

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Despite this, legislative action to address these root causes has been minimal, leaving residents to bear the financial burden. Effective measures are urgently needed to mitigate these impacts.


Government Intervention in Insurance

To alleviate the insurance crisis, some proposals suggest state-sponsored insurance programs that offer more affordable and stable options for homeowners. These programs could help residents manage rising costs and reduce the risk of losing their homes.

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However, the implementation of such solutions requires strong political will and comprehensive planning to ensure they meet the needs of Florida’s diverse population.


Innovative Insurance Models

Exploring new insurance models, like parametric insurance, could offer relief to Florida homeowners. Parametric insurance pays out predetermined amounts based on specific events, such as hurricanes, rather than detailed claims assessments.

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This model could simplify the claims process and provide quicker financial support to affected homeowners, helping them recover more swiftly from natural disasters.


Commercial Property Insurance Crisis

Rising insurance costs are not only affecting homeowners but also local businesses. Many small businesses are struggling to afford commercial property insurance, impacting their operations and growth.

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This economic strain has led to business closures and job losses, further exacerbating the financial challenges faced by Florida communities and hindering economic recovery.


Mental Health Impacts of Insurance Crisis

The financial stress and uncertainty caused by rising insurance premiums and housing instability are contributing to a growing mental health crisis among Florida residents.

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The constant fear of losing one’s home and the struggle to make ends meet are taking a toll on mental well-being. Access to mental health support services is becoming increasingly important in this challenging environment.


Community Displacement and Social Fabric

Similarly, the social fabric of Florida communities is being disrupted as long-term residents are forced to move away due to unaffordable insurance premiums. This displacement leads to a loss of community cohesion and support networks.

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As neighbors and friends relocate, the sense of belonging and stability within communities weakens, impacting the overall quality of life in these areas.


Lessons from Other States

Comparing Florida’s insurance crisis with other states that have faced similar challenges reveals potential solutions. States like California have implemented measures to mitigate insurance costs in high-risk areas.

California state Governor Gavin Newsom speaking to a crowd

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Florida could adopt similar strategies to protect its residents. Learning from these examples could provide a roadmap for effective regulatory changes and financial relief.


State-to-State Migration Effects

The migration of former Florida residents to other states with more affordable living conditions is reshaping the state’s demographics and economy. As people leave in search of better opportunities, Florida faces potential long-term impacts on its workforce and economic stability.

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Understanding these migration patterns is crucial for developing policies that address the root causes of the insurance crisis.


Class Action Lawsuits Against Insurers

The rise of class action lawsuits against insurance companies for unfair practices highlights the growing discontent among Florida homeowners. These legal battles aim to hold insurers accountable for their actions and seek compensation for affected residents.

Person filling out paperwork for a lawsuit with a silver pen

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Successful lawsuits could set a precedent and drive necessary reforms in the insurance industry, offering some hope to struggling homeowners.


Role of Consumer Advocacy Groups

Consumer advocacy groups play a crucial role in supporting Florida homeowners affected by rising insurance premiums. These groups provide resources, guidance, and representation to those facing unjust practices by insurance companies.

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By pushing for regulatory changes and increased protections, advocacy groups help ensure that residents’ voices are heard and their rights safeguarded.


The Government's Role

The insurance crisis in Florida has sparked calls for government intervention. Some argue that the state should take a more active role in regulating insurers and enforcing fair practices.

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Others suggest implementing policies or programs that incentivize insurance companies to provide coverage in high-risk areas.