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Florida Residents Decry Insurance ‘Nightmare’ as They Flee State

Soaring home insurance premiums in Florida are putting residents under unbearable financial pressure, with many telling Newsweek that they are considering leaving the state or moving somewhere cheaper within Florida.

The state currently has the most expensive home insurance premiums in the country, according to a recent report by the Insurance Information Institute. Residents are currently paying on average more than $4,200 per year compared to the national average of $1,700, according to data from Triple I.

While this is due in part to the increased risk of devastating weather events like hurricanes, other factors—including an excess of litigation and the dropping out of major insurers from the state—have contributed to the surge in premiums in recent years, for which Governor Ron DeSantis is being blamed.

The Republican governor has been accused of dragging his feet on the mounting insurance crisis in Florida, with Democratic Representative Maxwell Frost recently accusing him of a “lack of leadership.”

In a previous comment to NewsweekDeSantis spokesperson Jeremy Redfern said that the governor has already acted to address the crisis, but it would take time for Floridians to see the results of his policies.

Meanwhile, many Floridians are struggling to pay their surging insurance premiums.

Robert Kantor's Home in Florida
Robert Kantor’s home in Broward County. His homeowner’s insurance doubled to over $7,000 last year.
Robert Kantor

Robert Kantor, a resident of Broward County, told Newsweek that he has recently lost his partner to cancer, a loss which has affected his household income. “Yet the value of my home, which I bought for $150,000 in 1988, is now valued at over $600,000,” he said. “I find this ridiculous.”

Kantor said that his homeowner’s insurance doubled to over $7,000 last year, “with taxes at over $3,500. That’s over $10,000 just to stay in my home.” Earlier this week, Kantor said his premium had gone up by $1,900 “for no reason.”

Vincent Tropea, a resident of Boca Raton, a city in Palm Beach County, told Newsweek that he “can no longer afford home insurance coverage in Florida and cannot afford to be self-insured either.”

Tropea, a retiree with a disability who has lived in Florida for 30 years, said: “My next move is to see if I can afford to move to a different state.”

Cheryl Mandel, who attended college in Florida and has lived in the state for 40 years now, said that her personal condo policy has doubled in the past few years. “For Floridians in condo communities, the monthly fees and assessments are going up by $100+ per month,” she told Newsweek. “Mine is going up in January by nearly $150 a month.”

Mandel’s mother is having to go back to work part-time at the age of 83 to afford her home insurance. “I am exploring moving to a cheaper area in Florida into a home without condo association and insuring the bare minimum or not at all, or leaving Florida for good,” Mandel said.

Split Image of Cheryl Mandel and home
Cheryl Mandel and her home in Florida. She said her personal condo policy has doubled in the past few years.
Cheryl Mandel

Giuseppe Trafficante told Newsweek he expects the Florida insurance crisis to “devastate lots of families, especially condo owners.”

“We have no choice as condo owners to even choose to go without insurance and cover it ourselves if something might happen to our property,” he said. “We are forced by condo associations to pay what they increase it to. In my case, it’s a 50 percent increase that makes another 400$ a month. That’s insane.”

“Everything hardworking, aging people have earned will be wiped out. The people with the financial means will wait it out and gobble up everything,” he said. “This is America and the American dream is slowly turning into the American nightmare for the average Joe.”

Florida home insurance
Damaged houses in the aftermath of Hurricane Idalia in Keaton Beach, Florida, on August 31, 2023. Florida residents say they’re considering moving as a result of higher, unaffordable insurance premiums.
Sean Rayford/Getty Images

A California-born reader who chose to remain anonymous said she moved to Florida with her husband when they both retired from the US Navy. Now that her husband passed away and the mortgage on the home is paid off, she’s feeling a “real dilemma” about her living situation.

“Both my husband and I were naval officers who retired, so in our minds, we had served our country, and it seemed appropriate that we could retire to a place to safely live and continue to prosper,” she told Newsweek. “I am on a fixed income with my Navy retirement and a survivor benefits plan, and Social Security. It is 100 percent fixed income. I cannot imagine how I could possibly survive had we not paid off that mortgage.”

“I come from a long line of people who served our country—my grandfather, my father, myself, my husband, and now my son served in the United States Navy. We thought that kind of mattered,” she added.

“We thought that we should be able to find a safe place to retire government. We thought the federal and the government of Florida would respect our contributions to this country, and with Florida that has not been the case.”

Are you dropping your home insurance and going “bare” as a result of Florida’s insurance crisis? Email g.carbonaro@newsweek.com