Thousands of Floridians Aren’t Insuring Their Homes

When you have a mortgage, banks require that you get homeowners insurance to protect that investment. But when that mortgage is satisfied, thousands of people in Florida are deciding not to pay those insurance premiums. But that move comes at a risk.

Just ask Jose Ferrer. He showed us the destruction a fire caused in his Hialeah home.

"We lost everything," said Jose.

A house that took Ferrer and his wife, Delsy, 30 years to pay off was destroyed in just minutes.

"No, I don't have another home. No, I don't have anything," said Jose.

In each room, little can be salvaged. Even most of their cherished photos are gone. Delsy worries about what they'll do because their home is uninsured.

"I go to sleep and when I wake up I think I'm in a nightmare," said Delsy.

The Ferrer family isn't alone. According to the US Census Bureau's American Housing Survey, 12.8 percent of owner occupied homes in Florida don't have insurance. In Miami, 14.4 percent aren't insured. That's twice as many when compared to the national average of 6.8 percent of homes.

"It's totally crazy not to have insurance unless you are super rich and you can be self- insured but I don't think that's the case of most of us," said Victor Roldan, the director of RMS, a company that assesses risk for insurance companies worldwide.

"This is one of the most catastrophic zones historically in the United States and in the world as well," said Roldan.

And that higher probability for hurricanes and other disasters is why policies cost more in Florida.

According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, Florida had the third highest average premium for homeowner's insurance compared to other states in 2016 -- costing homeowners $1,918 annually. Compared to the national average, Floridians pay $726 more per year. And Roldan says the risk for homeowners will continue to grow.

"Climate change is actually making catastrophes bigger," says Roldan.

Roldan says bigger and more frequent. He says consumers who risk going without insurance are playing Russian roulette. 

"It will never happen to me but if you choose to live in South Florida it will happen to you," says Roldan.

While the Ferrers hope for a miracle so they can rebuild.

"I don't know what will happen with my family," says Jose.

He hopes others will learn from what happened to them.

For now, the Ferrer family is living with their 99-year old father-in-law. They haven't been able to find any government assistance to help them rebuild. There is a fund to help families like this but the city of Hialeah says that they do not qualify because they live in a duplex. Roldan says that before buying a home, you should calculate the cost of homeowner's insurance to make sure you can afford that protection.

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