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Drivers facing spike in auto insurance rates

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Florida drivers are seeing sticker shock when receiving their bills for car insurance.

Auto insurance renewal rates have been going out, and nearly everyone who drives a car is seeing the cost of car insurance skyrocket as the state faces an insurance crisis for home policies.

Heather Michelle Jackson is a realtor in Fort Myers and said many people are struggling to pay their car insurance.

“It makes it a little difficult for people to relocate and people to be able to pay their bills to live here,” Jackson said.

Sophia Marietta said to save money; she obtains quotes for car insurance every six months.

“My friends who have been owning cars and paying car insurance have been experiencing the same thing,” Marietta said.

Calling on insurance agents like agent Doug Nellans at the Insurance Center to hopefully obtain lower rates.

“We have a lot of clients calling us every day when they receive their renewal offer noticing the prices went up,” Nellans said.

He said the average rate hike be 30% or more a year.

“There were over 100k vehicles that were flooded in Hurricane Ian, and that, of course, is having a negative effect on the prices,” Nellans pointed out.

He said it’s not just weather damage driving up rates.

“We have rising cost of repairs and replacements of vehicles. That’s due to lingering supply chain issues,” Nellans insisted.

That makes repairing vehicles after an accident much more costly.

Alan Smith is a service manager for Terry Wynter Auto in Fort Myers and said some vehicle parts have shot up 30% or more depending on the type of part it is. He explained many parts simply aren’t available right now, and other parts can take months to obtain once they’re ordered.

“There are a couple of dealers in the nation who have it, and now these dealers realize how scarce this part is, and the price of that part goes way up because they know what they have, and they’re going to make more money on it,” Smith said.

The problem goes even deeper, according to Mark Friedlander of the Insurance Information Institute.

“We’re seeing upwards of 30 to 40k new auto claim lawsuits being filed per month this year,” Friedlander stated.

He said uninsured drivers and fake claims are also among the matters driving up costs.

“Auto vehicle auto theft is another major factor in the cost of auto insurance here in Florida,” Friesland said.

According to the Lee County Sheriff’s Office, since Jan. 1, 2022, the county alone reports 706 vehicles stolen, another reason rates are rising.

“There is a lot of sticker shock with car insurance rates in Florida today,” Friesland said.

With no immediate relief in sight, he said the best advice to save money is to shop around for lower rates. Also, make sure you get all of the discounts you qualify for, as it could save you hundreds of dollars each year.

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