Landlords are on edge over the housing market’s insurance shock—a whopping 80% say they’re anxious, survey reveals



The housing world doesn’t need another problem, but it has one: insurance. The insurance scene is changing, and property insurers are either capping the number of policies they write, are stricter in underwriting, are refusing to write new policies altogether, are fleeing completely, or are raising rates. California and Florida (and sometimes Texas) seem to be the worst hit, and their home-insurance markets can feel dysfunctional, but as the severity of extreme weather events escalate, it’ll only magnify across the country. And small landlords are worried. 

A ResiClub-Groundfloor housing investor survey found 80% of respondents, all landlords, were concerned about insurance woes, specifically “future home insurance premium hikes.” A total of 224 investors who own short-term or long-term single-family, condo, or townhome rental properties completed the survey, according to ResiClub and its cofounder and editor-in-chief, Lance Lambert, Fortune’s former real-estate editor. 

George Haralampopulos rents out his three-bedroom, two-and-a-half bathroom home in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Haralampopulos, in his mid-thirties, bought the property in the midst of the pandemic-fueled housing boom and started renting it out not too long after. When his property insurer reassessed his home this year, his cost shot up: His monthly payment for insurance and property taxes went up around $600 to $700, Haralampopulos said. “It’s something that definitely gave me some sticker shock,” he said. 

Basically, he’s seen his monthly housing costs jump, and he’s had to eat the cost because he doesn’t want to increase his tenant’s rent. Haralampopulo thinks if the rent were any higher, it’d be a tough sell—so now his rental income isn’t covering as much of the mortgage as it used to. It leaves less money for any remodeling or improvements, too, Haralampopulos said. And he’s already wondering what hurricane season will look like this year, and if it’ll result in even higher insurance costs. “All it takes is one bad one, and then what does that scenario look like?”

Apart from the states that have found themselves in the midst of this insurance shock, there’s places such as Ohio, too, where a twin-brother duo, which owns several rental properties, are already having to mitigate changes. Joshua and William Lemmon, brothers in their mid-thirties, bought a portfolio from another investor with properties spread out throughout Ohio—and it just so happens that William is an insurance broker. They said insurance carriers have gotten increasingly picky about what they’ll insure and strict about what they want.

They’ve had to take on more risk, too, whether that be with a higher deductible, or limiting some coverage. And there was one instance where they had to replace the electrical mechanics in one property to remain insured, the two said. They’ve replaced roofs and plumbing as well, they said, to counter higher rates. Another time, an insurer almost dropped them after seeing a shed in not-so-good shape at a property of theirs, so they replaced it to keep that from happening. And the Lemmon brothers are concerned things could get worse, especially when they hear about what’s going on in coastal states. Still, it hasn’t gotten to the point where it’s deterred them as investors. 

Last summer, Jason Damm, an assistant professor of professional practice of finance at the University of Miami who rents out a property in Miami, said after renewing his insurance earlier that year, his premium went up—and that was before his insurance company sent him a notice that it was pulling out of the state and his policy was canceled. He was without insurance, at the time, and wasn’t sure what he was going to do given how costly and difficult it was to find coverage.

Homeowners insurance rates leaped, increasing by double digits last year, according to the S&P Global. In the ResiClub-Groundfloor survey, of the 80% who were concerned, 37% said they were “very concerned,” and 43% said they were “somewhat concerned.” We’ll see if that changes as time goes on—it seems the country is about to have a “very active” hurricane season.

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