Katrina’s long reach

This New York Times story about insurers non-renewing 3 million homeowners policies in the Eastern U.S. is not news to the kind of people who read this blog, but it’s a good, well-written story nonetheless, and worth a look. An excerpt:

Amy Bach, executive director of United Policyholders, a California-based consumer advocacy group, has watched the situation in the East with both professional and personal interest, since the policy on her parents’ Long Island home was recently canceled. Crisis or not, she said, the pattern is familiar.

”Wide-scale nonrenewal has been the knee-jerk reaction of the big insurance companies after every major disaster: hurricanes, earthquakes, wildfires,” she said.

Florida set the pattern for states in picking up the risk shed by major carriers. Its state-created Citizens Property Insurance Corporation, the insurance pool for those unable to find home insurance anywhere else, has become the state’s largest homeowners’ insurer, with 1.3 million policies.

But Massachusetts, last hit by a moderate hurricane in 1991, has also found itself in the insurance business. Its high-risk pool has doubled in size in the last five years, reaching 200,000 policies this year, which makes it the largest single homeowners’ insurance carrier in the state. On Cape Cod, 44 percent of homeowners are covered by the plan.

In New York, Connecticut and New Jersey, the number of people covered by state insurance pools has remained relatively low. The New York plan, known as the New York Property Insurance Underwriting Association, carries about 70,000 policies, most for homes in coastal areas; this year, officials said, the state pool was expecting 10,000 more.


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