Recent Committee Meeting Over the Cost of Home Insurance 

12 Sep

Senators heard from consumer advocates as well as friends from the insurance industry in a recent committee meeting regarding the cost of homeowners insurance and how climate change is impacting the cost of homeowners insurance. 

Consumer advocates argued that more robust state regulation and increased federal involvement is necessary to slow rising premiums while friends of the insurance industry claimed that removing unnecessary regulation and making it harder for homeowners to sue insurance companies is the solution to more expensive policies.

Jerry Theodorou, who has worked for the past 15 years as an analyst for the property and casualty insurance industry feels that educating the public on how insurance actually works is also a necessary step.

“Yeah, they know how it works. It’s called write a check and then you have to sell blood plasma to go to the grocery store,” said U.S. Sen. John N. Kennedy,  in the recent committee meeting. 

Experts claimed in the meeting that home insurance premiums have gone up an average of 26.4% nationwide over the past few months and have skyrocketed by up to 120% in some markets.

When it comes to sky-high insurance premiums, Florida is the undisputed king with average premiums hitting $4,200. Louisiana residents are paying an average of $2,038, while the national average is $1,331, according to the R Street Institute. 

Five major U.S. property insurers have stopped taking on new customers due to extreme weather patterns. In some regions (California and Florida are examples) insurers are still selling policies but they are more expensive, offer less coverage and come with higher deductibles. 

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, an Ohio Democrat on the committee said the insurance situation is quickly becoming a crisis for homeowners, causing them to spend money they can’t afford or even drop out of homeownership altogether. 

“Increasingly homeowners are facing an unpleasant surprise,” Brown said in the meeting, “When it is time to renew their policies they are hit with higher costs or no coverage as insurers are leaving markets altogether.” 

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration there have been 15 weather disasters, each costing at least $1 billion so far this year. Unfortunately, it is no longer just hurricanes causing issues, wildfires and flooding have also become major and expensive issues. Disasters have cost $34 billion in the first six months of 2023, said Brown.

While the increase in the number of disasters has become an issue, so has the cost of reinsurance which is up about 50% this year. Reinsurance are policies insurers buy to mitigate their own losses during a major catastrophe. Currently, reinsurance is an unregulated market.

One suggestion is for the federal government to get into the reinsurance game, selling reinsurance policies to help keep pricing stable. Experts also suggested the government should be spending money to help homeowners make their homes more resilient to hurricanes and wildfires. 

Another approach, recommended by U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., is to kick the issue back to the states “There is a way to fix this problem, but I don’t think there’s a federal government solution to the problem,” Tillis said. 

Theodorou agreed with the Tillis approach. “The push to introduce some sort of federal backstop or support, however well intentioned, would backfire, because contrary to popular opinion, the reinsurance market and the primary insurance industry is not on its knees,” he said in a recent NOLA article.  “It’s not collapsing.”

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., pointed out that senators had no way of gauging the health of the insurance industry as insurers and state regulators have refused to provide the information requested by the President regarding the impact of climate change on the industry.

“Insurers and state regulators are pushing back on this. They say that collecting this data is unnecessary, ill-advised, and burdensome,” Warren said in the NOLA article.

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