Florida Homeowners Face More Storm Cleanup Amidst an Insurance Crisis
The cleanup continues in the state of Florida this week after at least one tornado hit the state on Thursday, October 12, damaging homes, vehicles, and businesses in the Tampa Bay area, CNN reports.
At least two homes in Clearwater Beach, Florida, were damaged, with photos revealing debris-covered streets and a home’s gutter that went right through a car’s windshield. According to CNN, one home’s wall and roof collapsed onto a sleeping 90-year-old woman due to the storm. She was uninjured, and, according to Clearwater police and fire officials, there were no reports of any other injuries from the storm.
“She woke up to the sound of glass breaking,” Rob Shaw. Clearwater Fire and Rescue spokesperson told CNN. “She pulled the covers up over her head and rode out the storm.”
In Crystal River, Florida, according to WFLA-TV news, one resident, Anthony Gannon, could smell the insulation being ripped off his home as he hunkered down next to his living room sofa. Tornado warnings blaring from their phones alerted Gannon, his wife, and his son—all asleep at the time—of the approaching danger.
“It was just wild; it was a scary 20 seconds,” Gannon told WFLA. “And I’ll tell anybody going forward, ‘You get that alarm on your phone, take it serious.’ Because it saved our life.”
The damage to Gannon’s home included a blown-off room, broken windows, and ruined belongings. For Gannon and others in the area, the recent storms represented a double-whammy, as many had just recovered from the extreme flooding that Hurricane Idalia delivered in late August.
“I’ll deal with flooding,” Gannon said to WFLA. “But I don’t ever want to deal with a tornado again.”
To make matters worse, Florida has also been facing a homeowners’ insurance crisis, but according to the Insurance Information Institute (Triple-I), the problem is due not to extreme weather, but instead, because of insurance company insolvencies and homeowners’ insurance-related litigation. Florida leads the nation in homeowners’ insurance-related litigation, despite accounting for less than 10% of claims, with a corresponding impact on policyholder premiums.
“Floridians are seeing homeowners’ insurance become costlier and scarcer because for years the state has been the home of too much litigation and too many fraudulent roof-replacement schemes,” said Sean Kevelighan, Triple-I CEO. “These two factors contributed enormously to the net underwriting losses Florida’s homeowners’ insurers cumulatively incurred between 2017 and 2021.”