TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — In the wake of Hurricane Ian, many homeowners are finding they don’t have the right type of insurance coverage to repair their damaged homes.

That’s because only a separate flood insurance policy covers rising water — even if it’s caused by a hurricane and storm surge.

“That is not going to be covered under people’s home insurance. You have to have flood insurance,” said Nick VinZant, an analyst with Quote Wizzard, an online insurance comparison platform.

In Florida, only 18 percent of homeowners carry flood insurance policies, according to federal data. And it gets worse: 85,000 Florida homeowners had just dropped their policies in the last year — right before Ian hit — likely due to rising costs, VinZant said.

Those in flood zones may be required by their mortgage companies to have flood insurance. But many, especially those who live inland, traditionally skip the coverage. In Tampa Bay, counties hit hardest by Ian saw the sharpest drops in flood prices, according to Quote Wizzard.

Manatee County saw a 14 percent drop. Sarasota: 8 percent, and Polk County: 9 percent.

Most flood policies are through the National Flood Insurance Program, administered by FEMA.
Last year, FEMA changed the way it determines the prices of flood insurance policies. Homes in more risky areas now pay more than those in areas less prone to flooding.

That brought sticker shock: About 80 percent of policyholders saw a price increase in 2021,
and that led to tough financial choices for many families.

“I think we’re seeing a situation where a lot of people are making the choice to drop flood insurance. That can save you money in the short term but in the long term I think that raises some pretty big questions,” VinZant said.