Some Florida residents in Hurricane Ian’s path could face a total loss of their home without insurance coverage to replace it if they don’t have flood insurance. It’s too early to say how many, Gov. Ron DeSantis said, but he admitted it could be an issue after the storm clears.
A typical homeowner’s policy doesn’t cover flooding damage, and residents usually either add that coverage via a separate policy or go without coverage, especially if they don’t live in a flood zone, DeSantis said.
“The homeowner’s policy will cover certain things but the flood policy covers probably the most significant risk for most homeowners in Florida given the risk of flooding that we have in so many different parts of our state,” DeSantis told reporters at the state’s Emergency Operations Center in Tallahassee on Wednesday.
“There’s obviously going to be some folks that are going to be in need of support and relief and we’re obviously going to work as best we can.”
Images of storm surges of more than two feet engulfing homes and washing away vehicles in Lee, Collier and Charlotte counties have popped up on social media and in news reports.
DeSantis said that while FEMA has some programs that can help people who didn’t have flood insurance, it won’t be the same as having a full flood policy.
“Just because you’re not in a ‘flood zone’ does not mean that you’re not at risk of a catastrophic event like this,” DeSantis said. “This is an issue we’re going to have to deal with.”
At the same time, DeSantis expressed confidence that state-run Citizens Property Insurance will have enough surplus to pay Ian-induced claims without needing to place assessments on their customers or those of other policyholders throughout the state.
Citizens has more than $6 billion in surplus and its early modeling of the storm, made before Ian made landfall in Southwest Florida on Wednesday afternoon, showed it could see 225,000 claims worth $3.8 billion in losses. Citizens spokesman Michael Peltier said those numbers will likely change once the storm clears and damage assessments are conducted.
“They feel very strongly that they’re going to be able to handle this and still have pretty significant reserves,” DeSantis said.