It’s getting harder to find insurers in the coastal states.
Four home insurance companies say they will not renew policies for people in California starting next year. That follows similar decisions by Allstate and State Farm dating back to last November. Allstate is still offering home insurance coverage to current customers and auto insurance to new and current customers but paused condo and homeowners insurance policies to new customers in California last November.
The most recent move is by smaller insurers. Merastar Insurance Company, Unitrin Auto and Home Insurance Company, Unitrin Direct Property and Casualty Company, and Kemper Independence Insurance Company plan to non-renew policies.
The companies say the decision was part of a restructuring of their parent company, Kemper Corp., to exit the “preferred” home and auto market—an industry term referring to a tier of risk.
That’s different from the Allstate and State Farm withdrawals, which were due in part to the state’s wildfires as well as inflation.
The impact on housing
The four insurers make up less than 1% of the state’s homeowners insurance market. Still, more insurers withdrawing from California, or at least reducing their presence in the state, could spell trouble for the housing market.
John Burns Research and Consulting’s vice president of research and demographics, Eric Finnigan, previously told Fortune that a survey of homebuilders found that buyers are concerned over the cost and availability of homeowners insurance in their region, which in turn is somewhat slowing sales. For instance, in Northern California, 20% of homebuilders surveyed, at the time, said that buyers’ concerns over property insurance are somewhat slowing sales, and in Southern California, 29% of builders said as much. Nationally, only 9% of builders said that insurance concerns were somewhat slowing sales. And it doesn’t help that California is dealing with its own affordability crisis of insurance woes.
California is just the latest state to see insurers step back from the market. Florida has seen four insurers reduce their exposure in the state following a string of natural disasters. Included among those were Farmer’s Insurance, AAA, Bankers Insurance, and Lexington Insurance, a subsidiary of AIG. And the survey mentioned above showed that 32% of homebuilders in Florida say buyers’ concerns over insurance are slowing sales, at least somewhat.
It’s likely that extreme weather events will continue to happen, and they could become more severe and more frequent. Fortune recently reported that since the 1980s, the U.S. has averaged around eight major weather events per year that caused at least $1 billion in damage. In the past five years, that skyrocketed to 18, and this year there have been 23 so far. That’s quite a problem for insurers that are already pulling out of markets they label challenging—and for the homeowners relying on their coverage.
The shrinking number of insurance options and the growing number of disasters are hitting Floridians in the wallet. The average homeowner’s premium in the state costs over $4,000, compared to the U.S. average of $1,544, according to E&E News, a division of Politico focused on environmental and energy news.
Florida’s chief financial officer has not taken the moves well, saying the companies were “too woke” and referring to them as “the Bud Light of the insurance industry. I do feel like they have chaos in their C-suite.”
[This report has been corrected with regard to the timing of Allstate’s decision to pull back from offering insurance in California, which occurred in November 2022, not earlier in 2023.]
This story was originally featured on Fortune.com
Alice J. Roden started working for Trending Insurance News at the end of 2021. Alice grew up in Salt Lake City, UT. A writer with a vast insurance industry background Alice has help with several of the biggest insurance companies. Before joining Trending Insurance News, Alice briefly worked as a freelance journalist for several radio stations. She covers home, renters and other property insurance stories.