TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — An unusual situation has led to a stunning property insurance increase in one Tampa Bay community.
A group of Tampa Bay area homeowners told 8 On Your Side they’re having to pay more for property insurance – nearly 10 times more.
We’ve seen dramatic premium spikes before but never like this. So, why is this happening and what can you learn from it?
Investigator Mahsa Saeidi continues her in-depth coverage of Florida’s property insurance crisis.
These folks live in a condo association. 8 On Your Side learned they did something that would make them undesirable to insurance companies in a normal, healthy market.
In this market, the fallout is severe. It’s a gated golf course community in Lakewood Ranch. There are four units in each building. It’s a picturesque lifestyle that’s now suddenly coming with an alarming price tag.
“You know, I just can’t believe this is happening to us,” said Richard Falco.
Inside one unit on Tuesday, neighbors grappled with an unexpected property insurance spike.
“Insurance companies talk to insurance companies, and that’s why no one else will insure us,” said Carol Cameron.
Each condo owner has to pay for two policies. The individual policy, which covers the unit and the HOA’s master policy, which covers common areas.
The master policy is the problem. The premium has spiked almost 1,000%.
In total, 56 condo unit owners used to pay approximately $56,000 a year. Now, it’s more than half a million dollars. Falco is one of 50-plus homeowners impacted.
“I can’t afford it. I’m a retired school teacher on a budget,” said Falco. “I have to come up with, what is $890 a month to pay for this insurance that there’s absolutely no coverage.”
Why is this happening?
8 On Your Side obtained the insurance proposal prepared for the condo. It shows the condo’s insurance broker went to carriers across the state.
They declined, declined, declined.
Citizens, Heritage and others noted an open construction defect lawsuit. In court, neighbors have claimed some buildings have a defect.
Multiple brokers tell 8 On Your Side that spells trouble to insurers. In a normal market, you’d have trouble getting a good deal. Now, it’s nearly impossible.
Only one company would take the risk: Lloyd’s of London. The carrier is known for taking on policies that others reject.
Carol Cameron, who recently purchased her home, feels blindsided.
“We had no idea any of this was happening until a week ago,” said Cameron. “Most of us are not going to have insurance.”
“If a big storm comes and hits everybody?” asked Investigator Mahsa Saeidi.
“Yes, we’re going to be done,” said Cameron.
The policy only covers up to $2.5 million of damage per hurricane. It’s supposed to cover 56 units. That’s another reason residents are not happy.
Here’s the take away for you: Florida’s insurance market is still tough.
Industry experts say that if you go on the record, stating there’s an issue with the building in court documents, for example, you’ll have a hard time getting affordable coverage.
8 On Your Side reached out to the builder to get more info on the alleged construction issues. We are waiting for an on-the-record response.
Investigator Mahsa Saeidi will stay on this issue. If you have a tip or comment for Mahsa, email MSaeidi@WFLA.com