Realty Check

Nationwide Dropped Homeowners: Who's To Blame?

Unrepaired house with tree on roof next to repaired house being lived in.

In working on a story today about the ramifications of Katrina on homeowners insurance in Florida and Gulf Coast states, I came across an odd bit of insight into hurricane-prone homeowner mentality. When Nationwide announced yesterday that it would not renew 39,000 residential policies and 16,000 commercial property policies in Florida, that after dropping 35,000 since Katrina, I called over to the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (they call themselves, “the Big I”). They gladly sent over a survey they released on June 7, 2007.

The survey found nearly 2.1 million homeowners in the South have lost home insurance coverage in the last few years and more than 11.5 million experienced rate hikes, many as high as 25%.

Hurricanes & Housing

But then the last question asked: What changes (made structural reinforcements, installed storm shutters, installed hurricane glass, etc.) have you made to your home since 2003 to secure it in case of a natural disaster? In the South overall, only 1/3 of respondents said they did, and in the Gulf Coast only slightly more, at 37%.

Given the increase in severity of storms over the last decade, the increase in awareness of global warming and its potential impacts on our weather, the increase in attention focused on the destructive power of these storms, I mean come on? No, shutters wouldn’t have helped the bulk of the victims of Katrina, but in Florida, which may as well be a big red bull’s eye for any hurricane headed toward the U.S., why are homeowners not doing more to protect themselves??

Any expert will tell you that adding items like storm shutters and making structural improvements to your home will actually lower your insurance premiums. That’s easy money and easy peace of mind. The industry helps those who help themselves, so I have to ask Florida homeowners: What are you waiting for?

Questions?  Comments?