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Few people in Florida had flood insurance before Hurricane Ian. Now, they fear they'll have to pay the price

Homeowners without insurance face uncertainty after Ian
Homeowners without flood insurance face uncertainty after Hurricane Ian 02:05

Residents forced out by Hurricane Ian were allowed to return to Fort Myers Beach over the weekend — but the complicated process of figuring out what insurance might cover has just begun. 

"I don't really think a lot of this is covered. And that's, like, our biggest concern and fear," said Robby Podgorski, who was assessing the damage to his Fort Myers business, the Green Cup Cafe. 

Like so many there, he had insurance for wind damage — but not flood damage. 

"Neither me nor my landlord, nor a majority of the homeowners in my community had flood insurance," he said. "Since we're in a historic building in technically a FEMA flood zone, our insurance would be more than our mortgage or our rent." 

Only 18% of Florida homes have flood insurance, according to Insurance Information Institute. Florida homeowners already pay the highest premiums — nearly three times the national average — for property insurance, Insurance Information Institute says. 

Florida state Sen. Jeff Brandes says one problem is that a whopping 80% of property insurance lawsuits come from Florida, despite only representing 8% of the nation's insurance claims. It's driving insurers out or into bankruptcy, he said. 

"The trial attorneys are making billions of dollars in Florida by suing property insurers," Brandes said. "And so they're heavily lobbying the legislature to just do nothing for another year, and so to continue to kick the can down the road. Unfortunately in Florida, we're out of road." 

He says on top of recent rate hikes, homeowners across the state can expect insurance rate increases anywhere from 20% to 40% after Hurricane Ian. 

Florida officials say insurance companies have already paid more than $207 million in claims from the storm. 

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