Last week, two insurance firms, Farmers and AAA, said they would no longer sell homeowners insurance in Florida, leaving middle-class homeowners no longer be able to afford to rebuild or insure the homes they’ve occupied for decades on the Florida coast. As climate change pushes the U.S. further into its uninsurable era, insurance firms are abandoning homeowners with payouts below market values in many coastal areas, or by fleeing risky markets altogether. But that doesn’t mean the area will be deserted.
“I hate to say it,” Fort Myers real estate agent Isabel Arias Squires told Politico. “Only very, very, extremely wealthy people will be able to rebuild.” Yet insurance companies themselves continue to insure and invest in the fossil fuel extraction industry mainly causing climate change as Republican-controlled states push firms to prop up fossil fuel operations. The Senate Budget Committee, on the other hand, is investigating the role of seven major insurance firms in contributing to climate change through their underwriting and investments. Because it’s not just beach properties.
Less than 1% of Vermont homes and less than 2% of New York housing units are covered for flood insurance, leaving those hit by recent flooding with potentially extreme financial consequences. “The bottom line is, it just sucks,” Samantha Medlock, senior counsel on the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis prior to its disbanding by Republicans in January, told Politico. “Some areas are no longer safe to occupy because they are breathtakingly risky to life, property and first responders.” (Insurance industry: Wall Street Journal $, New York Times $; Senate: E&E $; AAA: The Hill, CBS; Florida homeowner impacts: Politico, The Guardian; Vermont & New York: Politico, Farmers: (The Guardian, Gizmodo, The Hill, CBS, AP)