TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Florida’s already troubled property insurance market faces another challenge: Hurricane Idalia.
Now that the floodwaters have receded, the question is could Idalia impact you, even if your home survived the storm?
8 On Your Side wanted to see the damage first-hand. We took our chopper up flying from Pinellas to Cedar Key. There was damage, but it was nothing like the stunning destruction in the wake of Hurricane Ian. Many industry insiders tell 8 On Your Side the state dodged a bullet.
Hurricane Idalia hit as Cat 3, packing 125 mile per hour winds. In Cedar Key, some homes were blown apart. In Tampa Bay, it was the surge.
“My house is basically in the water, maybe 4 or 5 feet under water,” said Jonah Person, who lives in Madeira Beach.
Landfall was in the Big Bend region in Taylor County, which is home to just 22,000 people.
Late Thursday, Gov. Ron DeSantis surveyed the damage, alongside FEMA.
“Well I’ve seen a lot of heartbreaking damage,” he said. “People losing homes, losing businesses.”
“What I saw from the land is a significant amount of flooding damage,” said FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell.
Floridians already pay some of the highest insurance premiums in the country. Hurricane Ian made it worse, with more than 17 billion in insured losses. So, will this storm impact you, even if you didn’t lose your home?
We won’t know the impact of this storm for another month.
Industry experts say nine out of 10 people will file a claim within the first 30 days. That information is reported to the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation.
“We’ve received about 800 claims to this point,” said Michael Peltier with Citizens, the state’s insurer of last resort.
Right now, Citizens insists hundreds of adjusters are on stand-by. They said they’ve already flown over the damaged areas.
After Ian, they had 68,000 claims. For this storm, they’re expecting less than 10,000.
“The damage could’ve been much worse had it struck a little bit further south into your viewership area, that would’ve been another ballgame,” he said. “There was flooding and there were surge issues in the Tampa Bay area so there may be … we’re expecting some claims there as well.”
If all the damage came from just flood, your homeowners policy will not cover that. That’s why insurance brokers recommend you buy flood insurance, even if you’re not in a named flood zone.
The fact that this storm wasn’t bigger doesn’t mean insurance companies won’t be leaving. We’ve seen them exit Florida, even when there’s not a crisis.