Homeowners facing insurance premium hikes, cancellations

WINTER PARK, Fla. — A Winter Park woman claims her homeowner’s insurance demanded thousands of dollars in repairs then cancelled her coverage because her house was too old. Action 9 found many homeowners could face the same ultimatums.

“Why, why are they doing this to us?” Anne Mercado said she felt blindsided by her homeowner’s insurance.

After paying for a one-year policy, she faced cancellation unless her home passed a strict test.

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“They take the money, insure me, then start making demands,” Mercado said.

According to Mercado, her insurer demanded significant improvements, or her policy would be cancelled.

“You put in a new water heater?” Todd Ulrich asked.

“Yes, I passed every single test,” Mercado replied.

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Mercado claims she documented all repairs, that included rewiring the home and a new roof. But then her insurer, United Property and Casualty, cancelled her policy anyway because of the year it was built.

“You’re not going to insure me because my house is too old? Why?” Mercado said.

Insurance experts say it’s the new Florida reality. Many companies are now demanding repairs or not insuring older homes.

The industry blames the change on massive losses that have forced them to limit their risks and only insure more secure properties.

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“The insurance companies in Florida are losing their shirts,” said Citizens Insurance CEO Barry Gilway.

Citizens Insurance is the state’s insurer of last resort

Gilway told Ulrich; Florida insurance companies suffered half billion-dollar losses since 2019. He said those losses were driven by soaring re-insurance rates from hurricane damages and big legal fees for water damage repairs. Gilway says that forces many companies to deny policies to homes that would have been covered.

“You lose money on older homes, so any homes built before 1994 is a poorer risk than a newer home,” Gilway said.

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So, homeowners can expect repair demands and older home denials.

United Property and Casualty didn’t respond to Ulrich’s questions about Mercado’s denial.

She finally found a new insurer who wrote a new policy at a higher premium for less coverage.

“I hope I can survive another 10 years without going through this again,” Mercado said.

The insurance industry’s record losses will drive homeowner premiums even higher next year. Homeowners can expect a minimum 15% hike and a 25% to 35% hike may not be out of the question.