Recuperating from Hurricane Irma
Gone are the days of hearing chainsaws as the soundtrack to our lives. Debris clean-up is complete. And schools and most businesses across the State are reopen. “Florida residents are anxious about getting their lives back to normal after Hurricane Irma,” says Ellsworth Buck with GreatFlorida Insurance, Florida’s largest independent homeowners insurance agency.
While the return to ordinary life is welcome, many across the state are dealing with some kind of damage. Expectedly, Hurricane Irma property insurance claims continue to add up across the state. The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation, reported as of September 26, over $3.8 billion in losses so far. A total of 605,520 claims have been filed. These numbers represent residential as well as commercial claims. Dade county has the highest number of claims across the state.
In an effort to help property owners recover, the State’s insurance commissioner, David Altmaier has frozen insurance rate increases. He issued an emergency order temporarily suspending policy cancellations and rate increases by insurance companies. Insurance companies are prohibited from raising property insurance rates until December 3 of this year. They also cannot cancel or refuse to renew polices between September 4 through October 15.
Additionally, the order prevents the cancellation or nonrenewal of policies covering residential properties damaged by the hurricane until at least 90 days after the properties are repaired. Any cancellations or nonrenewals issued or mailed between August 25 and September 2 shall be withdrawn and reissued no earlier than October 15.
Aside from residential losses, Florida’s top industries are experiencing setbacks. “Hurricane Irma really hit the tourism and agricultural industries,” reports Buck from GreatFlorida Insurance, Florida’s top independent homeowners insurance agency.
This Sunday, the first cruise ship returned to the Florida Keys. An encouraging sign for tourism. Some areas in the Keys will officially welcome tourist October 1, while other locations are still dealing with clean-up. Many hotels in the region will not re-open until early October. Most golf courses throughout the state and big theme parks are already back in business.
However, the Palm Beach Post reports, widespread destruction of Florida’s agricultural industry. This fall we will experience, low inventory and high prices in grocery stores. Most damage happened in Southwest Florida. Citrus groves took the brunt of the storm. Nevertheless, sugar cane fields and rice crops suffered much damage along with tomatoes and avocados. Vegetables including eggplants, bell peppers and lettuce were also hard hit.