Alabama Coastal Homeowners Face Insurance Rate Woes

16 May
Alabama Governor Robert Bentley

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley, left, talks to Baldwin County Probate Judge Tim Russell.

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley has admitted that the home insurance sector in the state badly needs some reforms and one area that needs to be addressed immediately is the discrepancy in the insurance prices across various regions of the state. More specifically, the greatest of the discrepancies exists between the rates levied on coastal homeowners and those that inland residents have to dish out.

Huge Price Differences

The average home insurance premium rate in Alabama is about $1050 a year. But the coastal homeowners pay about 250 to 325 percent more for their insurance policies! But they should right because of flood surges and high winds caused by hurricanes? You would think so but this is not the case as is explained here. For instance, homeowners in cities like Saraland and Mobile pay about 260 to 290 percent more than those who live more inland while those who live in the Bay Minette, Fairhope, and Gulf Shores regions pay about 300 percent more for their home insurance policies.


The roots of the coastal homeowners’ woes can be traced back to 2006 when the Department of Insurance in Alabama became concerned that increased global warming will heat up the seas and this will lead to more hurricanes and tropical storms in the state. They decided that the costs to repair and rebuild the vulnerable coastal areas of the state would be far greater than that incurred for the rest of the state. So the Department permitted insurance companies to implement their own Hurricane Catastrophe Models to calculate the insurance premium amounts for coastal homeowners. It was an experiment that spelled doom for many in the coastal belts.

Choosing to be Insurance Naked

The Hurricane Catastrophe Models implemented by the various insurers predicted more than $60 billion worth of hurricane damage in the U.S. in the forthcoming five years and accordingly pegged the insurance rates for coastal homes in Alabama. The result was skyrocketing insurance prices especially in areas like Mobile and Baldwin. Many families had to drop their policies and countless more chose to be uninsured.

Bad Data

The fallacies of these experiment Hurricane Catastrophe Models were realized in subsequent years. Weather data has revealed that hurricanes in Alabama cause as much damage inland as they do in the coastal regions. In fact, the inland regions incur more wind damage than the coastal areas as was evident when hurricanes Ivan and Katrina had struck. Archived weather data also suggests that inland Alabama suffers more damage from tornadoes and severe winds and hails than the coastal regions. Unfortunately, the Department of Insurance does not have this data. The Department does not collect weather data for separate counties and so is hardly aware of the discrepancies in the Hurricane Catastrophe Models.

Changes are Needed

The need of the hour is to do away with the discrimination in home insurance prices. The Department of Insurance needs to stop guessing and delve into some serious number-crunching work to figure out if at all repair and rebuilding costs in the coastal areas of the state are greater than that in the inland regions, and if so, by how much. The Department HAS to intervene to improve the plight of the coastal homeowners in Alabama and make sure that they are protected from the clutches of some unscrupulous insurance agencies.

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