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  • Fort Myers News-Press

Move, cut back or go bare: Florida seniors juggle skyrocketing costs, impossible choices

In Lee County, just steps from the Caloosahatchee River, lies Priscilla O’Harra’s concrete block home. Her husband built it in the ‘70s, she said, and at 86, she lives there with her son, daughter-in-law, and their dog.

But they don’t have insurance.

O'Harra's insurance carrier, State Farm, dropped her the year following Hurricane Ian. She was baffled.

Despite being less than a block from the river’s edge, her home did not flood during Ian, and her roof sustained such minor wind damage that the repairs didn’t even meet her deductible.

The reason: They said her home, at 46 years, was too old to insure. She decided then to go bare – no insurance at all.

“I’m just disgusted,” O’Harra said.

Why throw away thousands on a carrier that won't help her, she asked?

Across the Sunshine State, long known for a laid-back atmosphere, affordable living, palms, sand and the ever-salty surf, older adults are facing a tough decision: pay out five figures or more annually for the privilege of homeowner’s insurance, or go without. 

Others have cut wind from their homeowner’s policy, which means nearly all damage from a hurricane would go uncovered. Still more have left, or are planning to leave, the state for cheaper pastures.

While homeowners insurance has gotten costlier and costlier in Florida, with nearly ten insurers going broke or leaving the state in the past three years, hurricanes Ian and Idalia caused so much damage that carriers hiked prices even further. 

The Florida Insurance Commissioner’s Office recently predicted a sunnier future for the industry in a press release, welcoming eight new policy carriers to the state a year after the GOP-led state senate passed a bill curtailing what industry advocates and legislative sponsors called “frivolous lawsuits” against insurance carriers. 

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