Hurricane Ian in Florida: Early insurance claims show $474M in losses

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Naples, Florida in recovery mode following Hurricane Ian

Naples Mayor Teresa Heitmann discusses the aftermath of Hurricane Ian and the recovery efforts following the storm.

Early insurance claims from Hurricane Ian total nearly $474 million in estimated insurance losses, according to claims data posted to the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation website. 

Companies were required to begin submitting data on Friday and the data showed a total of 62,047 claims with estimated losses of $473.828 million. 

The majority of the claims were for residential properties, standing at 49,191, and 41,778 were homeowners. 

About 1.1% of claims for residential properties were closed, with 496 closed without payment. 

TROPICAL STORM IAN INSURANCE LOSSES PROJECTED TO REACH $40 BILLION

In addition, 1.2% of claims for homeowners were closed, with 458 closed without payment.

Furthermore, 1.1% of the 628 commercial property claims were closed, with seven closed without payment.

In total, of the 62,047 claims, just 1.1% had been closed.

This aerial photo shows damaged homes and debris in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022, in Fort Myers, Florida. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee / AP Newsroom)

Hurricane Ian made landfall as a Category 4 storm on Wednesday, and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis described the hurricane as a "500-year flood event."

According to disaster modeling firm Karen Clark & Co., the storm has likely caused "well over $100 billion" in damage, including $63 billion in privately insured losses.

If those numbers are borne out, that would make Ian at least the fourth costliest hurricane in America's history.

Florida's property insurance market was already in peril, and the state has strained under billion-dollar losses, insolvencies and skyrocketing premiums.

The private insurance industry has lost more than $1 billion in each of the last two years and hundreds of thousands of residents have had their policies dropped or not renewed. 

An American flag flies amid beachfront businesses that were obliterated by the passage of Hurricane Ian, in Fort Myers Beach, Florida., Friday, Sept. 30, 2022.  (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell / AP Newsroom)

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Average annual premiums have risen to more than $4,200 in Florida – an amount that's triple the national average.

More than a dozen companies have stopped writing new policies in the state, and several have closed shop this year. 

Homeowners have flocked to the state's public insurer of last resort. Citizens Property Insurance topped a million policies for the first time in almost a decade this summer.

State regulators and insurers have long blamed lawsuits by homeowners as a major culprit in the state’s crisis. 

Ana Kapel walks through what is left of the Times Square area near the Lynn Hall Pier on the island of Fort Myers Beach, Florida, Friday, Sept. 30, 2022.  (Amy Beth Bennett/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP / AP Newsroom)

In May, lawmakers approved sweeping legislation that many in the statehouse regarded as a meaningful first step in repairing the market.

Home insurance policies, including those in Citizens, do not include flood coverage, which is handled under a federal program and is separate issue from the insurance market. 

"We are looking at a lot of flood claims," DeSantis said. "I’m not saying there’s not going to be a lot of wind damage, I mean it’s a hurricane so you’re likely to see that.

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"There’s more that I want to do in terms of the wind insurance and that will be something we’re going to address," he said. "I mean look, at the end of the day we’ve got to make sure folks are taken care of, and so we will do that, whatever we need to do."

The governor said Wednesday that Citizens should be in solid shape even after claims from Hurricane Ian. 

A spokesman for Citizens said it estimates 225,000 claims and $3.8 billion in losses from Ian, although he noted those projections were before the storm made landfall and were subject to change.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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