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Storm just beginning for Hurricane Ian insurance claims

Hurricane Ian: Witnessing the aftermath
Hurricane Ian: Witnessing the aftermath on Sanibel Island and Florida’s southwest coast | 60 Minutes 13:23

Florida residents who were in the path of Hurricane Ian are facing a tough road ahead as they seek insurance payouts. One independent insurance agency owner told 60 Minutes this week he expects claims to be complicated because two separate policies could come into play – one for wind and one for flooding.

"Did the wind damage happen first or [did] the water rise? And was there wind damage before it flooded? And it's hard to know the answer to that question," Brian Chapman told correspondent Bill Whitaker.

Only about 18% of Florida homeowners have flood insurance, according to the Insurance Information Institute.

"Because it's expensive. But not as expensive as what just happened," Chapman said. "I would say insured losses, [are] probably somewhere in the $60-$70 billion [range]."

Chapman owns one of the largest independent insurance agencies in southwest Florida, with about 30,000 customers, many who live on Sanibel Island and in hard-hit Fort Myers. Seven of his employees lost homes; his offices suffered water damage and lost power. It took a week to get the business up and running again.

"Monday morning, we were getting about 15 calls a minute," Chapman said.

Chapman says he fears Ian will only exacerbate persistent problems in Florida's insurance market. Eighty percent of all homeowners insurance lawsuits in the country are filed in Florida. Most big insurers have scaled back business in the state, and small insurers are being squeezed. Six went out of business just this year.

Chapman says he's seen double-digit and triple-digit increases to premium rates over the past two years.

"My policy was personally $3,500, then $7,000, and now $10,000. And that's not including the flood insurance." Chapman said, "It's not affordable. It's not sustainable."

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