When Hurricane Ian made landfall on Caya Costa Island, Florida on September 28, 2022, it unleashed more than just immediate harm to life and property. Well into 2023, the Florida boating industry is still experiencing lasting changes and challenges brought on by the category 4 storm. “Hurricane Ian insurance” is still a top search phrase on Google, and Florida boat owners and property owners alike are left wondering: How can I properly cover my belongings to protect against damages from such a storm?
The marine insurance sector was drastically affected by Hurricane Ian. Winds of over 155 miles per hour damaged many insured vessels. So many claims were filed after the storm that many insurance companies opted to leave the Florida market, cease writing new policies and/or impose new terms, which may impact future boat policy renewals. This leaves boat owners with fewer coverage options today than they had a year ago. In addition, underwriting requirements are now stricter than before, and homeowners insurance in the Sunshine State is following a similar trajectory.
On the marine side, some premiums have skyrocketed. Boats damaged by Hurricane Ian, essentially broken crafts, bobbed in the surf for months after the storm fizzled. Salvage crews worked for weeks to meet immense demand. Not long after, a large number of used boats started to appear on the resale market “as is.”
What does this have to do with you, and how do you navigate the post-Hurricane Ian insurance marketplace? By understanding the impact Ian had – and continues to have – on Florida boating and related sectors, you can find coverage options that are still available for most vessels.
The following snapshot of the post-Ian insurance market will reveal why it’s more difficult today to find a comprehensive policy.
Hurricane Ian and the Insurance Market
The aftershocks of Hurricane Ian range from the tangible (wrecked vessels and property wind damage) to the intangible (premium rate hikes and fewer marine insurers in the marketplace). Damage estimates from the storm are on par with those of Hurricane Katrina in their brutality, significance, and overall price tag.
This affects consumers in myriad ways. Not only is it more difficult now to secure a policy that protects a boat or a home in Florida, but the policies on offer are now significantly more expensive. Florida homeowners insurance, for example, has undergone rate hikes ranging from 6 to 11% or more..
This affects commercial and residential property owners alike who have no choice but to pay the increased costs. After all, you never know when the next hurricane will form over the Atlantic, aimed for the Florida coastline. It’s imperative to elect insurance before a tropical system exists, because once a storm is identified as a threat, insurers historically will not allow the public to purchase insurance for protection. Going even further to protect themselves post-Ian, some insurers now won’t even offer a new policy for protection once a tropical depression is spotted on the radar.
Meanwhile, the coverage that is available should be closely scrutinized. While it’s possible to secure insurance coverage in today’s marketplace for home and marine vehicles in Florida, policies may carry exclusions for wind and named storms. To ensure that you carry the policy that best protects your investment, partner with an insurance advisor who understands the current marketplace and can offer personalized protection.
Hurricane Ian and the boat resale market
Used boat shoppers beware: Hurricane Ian boats with low sticker prices might be lemons – and they also might be uninsurable. Thousands of boats were damaged as Hurricane Ian swept boats from their moorings and devastated even secure-seeming harbors. Many of these crafts received patch jobs and were put up for sale at cheap prices. Before Hurricane Ian, it was sometimes possible to get insurance for repaired boats if they were carefully vetted for seaworthiness. Today, finding coverage is more difficult than ever before. So many damaged crafts have flooded the marketplace that insurers are wary of taking chances on them.
What about insuring property?
As of February 2023, data from the Office of Insurance Regulation indicated that 40% of property claims have either been stalled or rejected. This makes sense: according to reinsurer Swiss Re, Ian is to blame for $112.9 billion in damages. Only Hurricane Katrina has Ian beat when it comes to losses. Now more than ever before, it’s imperative that you work with an experienced insurance advisor to obtain coverage.
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Trust a professional who understands the current insurance marketplace and can find you the best coverage for competitive premiums. Today, that’s no easy task. It takes an insurance advisor’s assistance in order to stay up-to-date with sector changes. Secure a solid policy to ensure you have the right coverage.
Has homeowners insurance been specifically affected?
Hurricanes have the ability to peel off roofs, break windows, and bring forth storm surges that destroy even the most sturdy abode. It comes as no surprise that homeowners insurance has been specifically affected by Hurricane Ian. Even homeowners who barely detected a raindrop from Ian can expect to pay much more for homeowners insurance than ever before.
This truism is because of the massive number of claims filed by homeowners who were affected by the storm. Paying out that many claims is bound to have an effect on future rates, as insurance companies are still scrambling to find the funds to make good on their coverage promises. It doesn’t matter, then, if your area of Florida has never had problems from hurricanes. The state is seen as a high coverage risk, from down in Key West up to Pensacola. And homeowners are going to pay the price.
Specific impacts to the marine insurance sector
There’s good news and there’s bad news. The good news is there’s never been a better time to find a used boat. The bad news is that virtually no insurance company is going to insure a sea craft totaled by Ian, no matter how great the restoration job. Before purchasing a used vessel, though, talk with your marine insurance advisor regarding your coverage options. That way, you won’t be stuck out on the water uninsured.
Deductibles are also steadily increasing, even for new vessels. The bottom line is this: understanding your coverage means avoiding unwanted surprises later. There are fewer companies insuring boats now, and most have changed their policies to reflect the ripple effect Ian continues to have on the insurance marketplace.
Shop for marine insurance wisely. Enlist an ally from W3 Insurance.
Is it safe to boat after Hurricane Ian?
The answer to that question depends on where you are. Certain areas are no longer safe. The hurricane dredged certain waterways and swept debris into others. Caution is always the best option when it comes to avoiding potentially changed seas. Hidden debris is best seen on a viewfinder, which is a handy tool to have on board.
Pollutants also linger in the waterways as a result of Ian. Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection received many reports about oil-slicked waters and more. Untreated wastewater was a common complaint. Aerial views of damage caused by the hurricane can be seen here.
To stay safe, visit the Environmental Protection Agency’s page before heading out on the water. You’ll be able to see updated waterway data and make an educated decision regarding where to navigate next.
Explore the best coverage and rates for your property
Whether you’re seeking homeowners insurance or marine insurance, it’s possible to find the best coverage and rates that meet your unique needs. No amount of scrolling the Internet is going to give you access to the experienced advice you’ll get from the insurance advisors at W3. Contact our team today to take the guesswork out of insurance coverage and get the protection you need. Whether a hurricane hits Florida next year or waits another 100, the W3 team will provide you with coverage that meets your unique needs.