More Bad News Blows In From Katrina

The only cyclone to regularly cause a scare in Brooklyn is the world famous Cyclone rollercoaster on Coney Island.

CBS News correspondent Michelle Miller reports that didn't stop Allstate Insurance from deciding not to renew the insurance on Norma Lawrence's house – after her more than 20 years as a customer.

The house is just five blocks from the beach.

"They're monsters," Lawrence says. "I said I bet it has to do with Katrina."

She's right. Insurers — spooked by the possibility of another record hurricane season — are not renewing tens of thousands of homeowner insurance policies along coastal areas.

Now Norma Lawrence has to withstand a big blow to her budget. She's been quoted new premiums — $1,100 higher than what she'd been paying, and she says she can't afford it.

She won't be alone. An Allstate spokesman told CBS News losing customers like Norma Lawrence is painful, but "they have to pick somebody."

One forecast predicts there's a 64 percent chance a severe hurricane will slam into the Northeast this year.

"I don't think the industry can sustain the losses like in 2005 for the next two or three years," says Michael Dion, an insurance industry analyst.

Allstate is limiting or not renewing homeowners' policies in five states: Texas, Mississippi, Florida, New York and Louisiana. State Farm has stopped offering policies in five Florida counties, and Nationwide tells CBS News "it's evaluating all areas" along the coast.

"You don't want your policy holder in Nebraska to be footing the bill for your policy holder in Mississippi," Dion says.

State laws limit the number of policy holders an insurer can drop in a calendar year. So who can expect to get the ax?

"It comes down to the location of that home, the claims history of that particular family, and also the construction of that house to basically withstand a very serious storm," says Jeanne Salvatore, a spokeswoman for the Insurance Information Institute.
  • Gina Pace

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