Fire Insurance For Homes With Home Theaters And High-tech Installations

Fire Insurance For Homes With Home Theaters And High-tech Installations – As a financial management expert, Eric Diton helps his clients manage personal financial issues. But he’s finding that many more of them are worried about something more unexpected: homeowners insurance.

“I can say for my Florida clients, there’s a story on their radar,” said Mr. Diton, president of the Wealth Alliance, an investment advisory firm. “They see the cost of insurance going up.”

Fire Insurance For Homes With Home Theaters And High-tech Installations

Fire Insurance For Homes With Home Theaters And High-tech Installations

Mr. Diton, who splits his time between Boca Raton, Fla., and Long Island, said he’s in the same boat. “My insurance company raised my premiums,” he said of his Florida home. “It’s very difficult to find many options, and it’s affected a lot of people in this country.”

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While Florida residents aren’t the only ones grappling with the issue, the state’s popularity with skiers means it’s a problem that affects many, experts say. When setting a fixed income budget, most retirees think that services and items, such as doctor visits and prescription drugs, will be more expensive. future payment. Almost no one thinks about home insurance – insurance industry experts warn that it can cost more.

Many Americans’ plans to retire to a Sunbelt beach or a beautiful mountain village are colliding with bad weather – and subsequent property damage.

“In some regions, we have already seen a change in weather patterns, which may have been driven by climate change, which has already taken effect,” said Ernst Rauch, chief meteorologist and scientist at the new insurance company Munich Re.

After suffering losses from floods, hurricanes and wildfires in recent years, many insurers are reevaluating their risk modeling practices. The result for many homeowners is higher property insurance bills. Others struggle to get a policy at any cost.

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“In some parts of the country, the insurance situation is very difficult – especially Florida and that region, including Louisiana and the Pacific states,” said Nancy Albanese, president second in personal insurance at BMT Insurance Advisors. “Other markets that are really struggling are California, and some of the Western states that are dealing with wildfires.”

He added: “When we meet a customer who wants to cover Florida, we know that’s a big challenge.”

Karen Collins, vice president of personal lines for the trade group American Property Casualty Insurance Association, said she and her colleagues “have seen a significant increase in casualties recently.”

Fire Insurance For Homes With Home Theaters And High-tech Installations

This trend is driving up prices. According to AM Best, an insurance rating and analysis firm, the total amount of homeowner’s insurance premiums Americans paid rose 8.4 percent between the third quarter of 2020 and the third quarter of 2020. of last year. (An AM Best spokesperson said this aggregated figure does not reflect any policyholder’s costs.)

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Mrs. Albanese said a scammer recently let one of her clients pay $22,000 a year to insure a Florida beach property. After a few runs, Ms. Albanese finds the client’s coverage through a “surplus line” provider – an insurer of last resort for high-risk policies – but at a premium.

“These rate hikes have been going on for years, and I can think of a buyer who says they’re planning to sell their Florida property because they’re so worried about insurance,” he said. said Ms. Albanian. . “I’ve also sold clients in Florida recently, I don’t know what the insurance market is like there and they’re just surprised – they didn’t know how much they were paying.”

Mr. Diton said the increase in property insurance premiums – especially when combined with higher property taxes in areas where home values ​​have risen sharply – is a real concern for buyers considering buying an investment property. generate zero income. This strategy is popular among retirees and some investors.

If a customer wants a property, Diton says he’ll put together a spreadsheet and analyze the costs. Sometimes, salespeople decide to sell. “The increase in homeowner’s insurance is really contributing to the issue for those people,” he said.

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A home in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., was prepared for Hurricane Dorian in 2019. Credit… Johnny Milano for The New York Times

Insurance professionals working in the Upper East Coast report on market trends. “What we’re seeing is that the companies that know how to write homeowners insurance on the beaches are closing, so there aren’t a lot of options,” said Robin Jaekel, vice president for personal lines at Glenn Insurance, a New Jersey insurance company that does a lot of business along the Jersey Shore. “Homeowners’ prices in coastal areas have fallen dramatically.”

Hurricanes and nor’easters are the primary causes of insurance runs in the market, Ms Jaekel said. Changes to the state-sponsored National Flood Insurance Program will create headaches — and expenses — for property owners who are required by mortgage holders to carry flood and flood insurance. owner of the village.

Fire Insurance For Homes With Home Theaters And High-tech Installations

In many cases, the only policy a homeowner can afford is a policy that limits the amount of damage one can expect after the worst storms. “We now have ‘designated hurricane mitigation’ on every policy here,” said Ms. Jaekel said. “If it’s called a tornado, they have a special extraction for that.”

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According to experts on severe weather, such reports will become more frequent as the weather gets warmer. “Hurricanes in the East Coast of the US are also moving north,” said Mr. Rauch said. “The risk has increased in parts of the northern United States as the water has warmed.”

“This is an important long-term issue for all developing areas of the United States,” said Jim Blackburn, professor of environmental law and co-director of the Severe Storm Prediction, Education and Evacuation From Disasters Center at Rice. University, by email. .

He added that while coastal areas will face some of the biggest challenges from storms, the increased rainfall means that homes near — rather than inside — will be hit harder. vulnerability to floods. “We haven’t even begun to understand the effects of climate change on settlement patterns,” he said.

The rising cost of damage from extreme weather comes on top of a combination of other factors that drive up the cost of homeowners insurance. Regional shortages and labor shortages make it more expensive to repair or rebuild homes after a disaster, where construction and design factors are also to blame, say insurance experts. In areas with older housing stock, the cost of rebuilding after a natural disaster will be higher due to the need to bring the materials up to current standards.

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“Building materials are giving them money against catastrophic losses,” said Jared Carillo, director of foundation accounts at SmithBrothers, an insurance broker in Connecticut. Materials used in construction today include more synthetic materials that burn faster and burn more, such as particle board, spray foam and wire insulation, he said.

Open floor plans are another mistake, said Mr. Carillo: “A fire that starts in the kitchen causes more damage throughout the first floor.”

Some of the weather changes the insurance industry is investigating, such as the northward migration of “Hurricane Alley,” are moving. Others — such as droughts that have fueled wildfires in the American West — have hit the changing landscape more quickly. Rauch says that in the 1980s, the average annual cost of fires in the United States ranged from $1 billion to $3 billion.

Fire Insurance For Homes With Home Theaters And High-tech Installations

It changed in the heart. “In 2017, for the first time, insured losses were somewhere in the region of $16 billion,” said Mr. Rauch said. “It’s a big leap, and 2018 will be the same.” After the wildfire season in the West in 2019, 2020 also brought eye damage, about $11 billion.

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There is evidence that the busiest companies are surprised by how quickly things change. In just the last four to five years, Mr. Rauch, wildfires have brought about a lot of change. “The condition of the disease is different from previous decades,” he said.

Insurance and real estate industry experts say this is especially problematic for people who put down roots decades ago and hoped to grow old in those homes and apartments, only to find the landscape has changed underneath. at their feet.

“I have some people who are retired here,” said Patrick Brownfield, risk consultant for insurance broker Hub International in Jackson, Wyo. homeowners have few options. “They used to spend $20,000 a year on their fixed income, now they can’t afford the insurance because it’s in all their income.

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