Home Insurance Premiums Rise as Americans Flock to Weather-Worn States

Americans are moving fastest to Florida, Texas and other states most at risk for climate-related natural disasters despite rising home insurance premiums.

Source: NY Times | Published on May 8, 2023

Florida property insurance market improves

Home insurance premiums are on the rise, and a key driver for the price increase is climate change. Yet, Americans are moving fastest to Florida, Texas and other states most at risk for climate-related natural disasters, according to a new study from LexisNexis Risk Solutions, a data and analytics provider.

Since 2015, the average homeowner has seen the bill for their property coverage grow by roughly 21 percent. But in Florida and Texas, the two states with the highest population gains in 2022, rates have climbed significantly more — 57 percent in Florida and 40 percent in Texas.

Those states are also experiencing extreme weather: Hurricanes like Ian, Nicole and Fiona, as well as record heat, ice and snow storms, wrought billions of dollars of destruction in 2022 and killed nearly 500 Americans.

“The states where climate tends to impact the world more strongly are seeing a bigger jump in population,” said George Hosfield, LexisNexis Risk Solutions’s senior director of home insurance. “We put two and two together, and it seems to be creating a perfect storm — no pun intended.”

Why It Matters: Americans are increasingly moving to areas of risk.

Scientific research provides a clear link between climate change and an uptick in extreme heat, flooding, wildfires and coastal sea level rise across the United States.

The risk is highest in the Sun Belt region, which is experiencing rapid growth, yet Americans are moving directly into areas of danger. Hurricane Ian alone killed more than 150 Floridians, knocked out power for 2.6 million residents and left Florida with a bill of nearly $113 billion in its wake.

Many new residents cite cost of a living as a key factor behind their moves, but home insurance costs are rising faster there than the national average, meaning homeowners should brace for sticker shock.

In Florida, the average home insurance premium in 2019 was $1,988. Today, it’s $2,714 — an increase of $726.

Background: Florida and Texas saw the highest population gains in 2022.

Florida grew by more than 318,000 new residents in 2022, accounting for a population increase of 1.9 percent last year — the largest uptick in the nation. Texas, with more than 230,000 new residents, was right on its tails.

In Colorado, where home insurance costs are up 41 percent over the last eight years, 5,376 new residents arrived last year, accounting for half a percentage point uptick in its population. In South Dakota, 8,424 new residents moved into the sparsely populated state in 2022, while insurance costs have jumped 39 percent since 2015. In dry, sunny Arizona, where nearly 71,000 new residents flocked in 2022, costs grew 28 percent.

Conversely, states that lost significant numbers of residents saw insurance rates rise much more gradually. New York lost the most population in 2022 — nearly 300,000 residents — but saw home insurance jump only 17 percent, several points below average. Louisiana, West Virginia and Illinois, which took the next three spots in terms of population loss, also saw slower rate increases.

California bucked the trend in several ways. Despite being battered by wildfires and extreme storms in recent years, home insurance rates there grew by only 25 percent, below the increase in other coastal states. California lost 343,230 residents, accounting for a 0.3 percent dip, last year.

What’s next: Rising costs could compel Americans to forgo risk protection.

With two out of every three homes in America already underinsured, skyrocketing prices may tempt homeowners to cut back even further on disaster coverage, putting them at significant risk when severe weather strikes.

They may also forgo additional coverage that they need more than ever. While mortgage lenders typically require homeowners to carry home insurance, most policies do not cover floods. With budgets tight, Mr. Hosfield anticipates that more homeowners will opt out of insurance for flood damage. “And that puts them in a pretty bad spot,” he said.