Saturday, June 22

Jensen Beach motel owner learns insurance increasing more than $4,000 in 1 year

The pain of skyrocketing insurance costs in Florida is far from an isolated problem.

A motel owner on the Treasure Coast was shocked by the latest premium hike that she received.

The Driftwood Motel, located along the Indian River in Jensen Beach, has been in the same family for decades.

“My family has owned the motel since 1958,” Irene Gomes said.

Insurance has never been a major worry for her family, even after the many tropical storms and hurricanes that have passed through the Treasure Coast.

But that all changed this year.

“All of sudden I get a notice that my insurance is going up $4,227 in just one year, and nothing has changed on the policy,” Gomes said.

She said her policy now stands at more than $16,000 for small turquoise cottages. That figure is without wind coverage since Gomes said she owns the motel outright and dropped that coverage years ago.

Insurance industry experts said the large hike is typical these days after insurers posted years of losses to large claims and litigation costs in Florida.

“[There were] approximately $100 billion in insured losses last year for the industry,” Mark Friedlander of the Insurance Information Institute said.

Friedlander said the losses in Florida were especially costly due to claims and litigation costs.

“They’re going to post in the industry about $190 million in underwriting losses for last year,” he said.

This follows the nearly $1.5 billion in losses from Hurricane Ian in 2022.

All of this leaves most policyholders looking at higher rates, and for Gomes, it may also mean raising her rates for customers.

“It’s hard enough. People are paying enough to come,” Gomes said. “They think prices are high already.”

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