TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) -— A Tampa Bay man got a crash course on Florida’s property insurance crisis when Hurricane Ian hit last month.
Many Floridians have had property insurance issues but Tom Colantuono’s experience really takes the cake.
The night before Hurricane Ian hit Florida, Colantuono and his wife were getting ready. They were buying supplies and prepping their house when they got the news nobody wants.
“She was white as a ghost,” he recalled. “She said, ‘We just got canceled by Frontline.'”
The notice of cancellation was effective Oct. 22, 2022.
It was the second time this year Colantuono had a policy canceled.
“Tell me why I was canceled?” Colantuono said during an interview with Nexstar’s WFLA in May.
Colantuono was one of more than 68,000 Floridians canceled by FedNat Insurance Company in May. In July, WFLA spoke with him again when he was faced with a double whammy.
FEMA changed its flood maps, meaning Colantuono’s flood insurance costs went up along with his premium. He called Florida’s insurance market “out of control.”
Colantuono reached out to WFLA again recently, concerned about the rights of homeowners.
“They just can’t cancel our policy the night before a hurricane is going to make landfall,” he said.
That’s true — they can’t.
As Hurricane Ian hit, Florida Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier issued an order to temporarily protect residents. It reads, in part, “from September 28 – November 28, no insurer or other regulated entity may cancel, non-renew or issue a notice of cancellation or nonrenewal of a policy or contract except at the written request of the policyholder.”
They can, however, cancel you after the two months are up. It’s why Colantuono’s agent signed him up with another carrier.
“I just found a policy with Citizens,” Colantuono said.
Like one million other Floridians, the state’s insurer of last resort is Colantuono’s only resort. It’s a Florida insurance tale with no happy ending in sight.
WFLA asked Colantuono if he’s concerned he’ll eventually get priced out of Florida.
“Sure — just this year the increases have gone up, probably doubled, almost tripled,” he said.
So why was the company allowed to cancel his policy? Insurance experts said the cancellation was likely in the works weeks before Hurricane Ian.
The Office of Insurance Regulation says any cancellation issued 10 days before Hurricane Ian must be withdrawn.
Residents who experienced anything similar are encouraged to call their agents. The agent will call the company and tell them to withdraw the cancellation, pursuant to the state’s order. However, an agent might just decide it’s best to move your policy.