Express Lane for Sept 27: Property Insurance crisis, NHC performance in Ian so far

It is no secret: Florida has a property insurance crisis. Many homeowners can’t get coverage or have limited coverage. The legislature has tried and failed to create a better system to deal with property insurance, and for the most part, completely failed. 

As Hurricane Ian threatens to wreak havoc on the Gulf Coast, it’s time we take a look at a different solution to the Property Insurance Crisis, including more comprehensively funding property insurance publicly through the State of Florida. 

Anything that smacks of socialism is a third rail of Florida politics and many reflexively will oppose such a proposal. However, we know today’s status quo isn’t working and we think new ideas could well be popular and have merit. 

Half-hearted “reforms” floated by Republican state leadership have only nibbled around the edges, mostly focused on a punitive approach to trial lawyers over the “assignment of benefits” issue. But we know Florida’s insurance markets have far deeper problems.

Historically Charlie Crist took an interest in reform even as a GOPer, but his successors in that party have acted more as agents for the insurance industry than serious lawmakers. This includes the current Governor and legislative leadership.

Over the next few weeks, we will detail how we got here, the current situation, and where the future of property insurance in Florida should look like. 

Unfortunately, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) which has a track record of being overly aggressive with issuing watches and warnings in areas that could be impacted by tropical systems, has been scrambling during Ian.

It’s not easy to forecast storms, but a possible over-reliance on computer modeling versus visible radar factoring in troughs and the storm’s actual movement seems to have been a factor in the NHC having to tweak the advisories closer to impact and landfall that it typically does. Historically, the NHC has been very good at issuing watches days out and then warnings, maybe 36-48 hours out from first impacts (not landfall). Ian though has been tough to forecast with two troughs in play, upper level winds, shearing potential and dry air to the north.

All of these factors have made the computer models dance around for days, and while the Euro model has been fairly consistent, the others have not been. In particular, our Kartik Krishnaiyer was screaming on Twitter for Charlotte, Lee and Collier counties to be put under a Hurricane Warning yesterday. Charlotte and Lee finally was at 5 am ET today, 12 hours after points to the north, that are FURTHER from the storm were placed under a warning. As of now, Collier is still not under a Hurricane Warning.

One possible explanation for this, is the need to trigger evacuations in the heavily populated and geographically unique Tampa Bay area before others take to the roads. However, it still seems shortsighted and it should be noted Charlotte, Lee and Collier counties have close 1.4 million residents between them. That’s a lot of folks.

Every winter/spring, the NHC does a very useful audit of itself – we sense Ian might trigger quite an internal inquest and look at modeling. That having been said, with the models as they’ve been, it’s hard to fault the NHC for its forecasts, but some good old fashioned Florida TV meteorologists have seen things for days that indicated the idea of a landfall in the panhandle or Big Bend was unlikely and that the storm could very well make landfall south of St Petersburg on the west coast. This could prove to be Charley 2.0.

%d bloggers like this: