Hurricane Insurance Premiums to Increase?

Pelting rain, ferocious wind and higher insurance rates. It's almost a given with a powerful hurricane, but it's what's already happened in Missouri, Alabama, and way over in Japan that could drive up your premium beginning now.

Insurance companies around the world have to pay for the damages through what's known as reinsurance. It's a concept homeowner Jack Kaufman just can't get over.

“I know it's unfortunate, but houses get wiped out and in order for them to come back, I've got to pay for that?” said Kaufman. “I mean, it would almost be like charging people in California in advance of an earthquake that may or may not happen. It's disappointing, I understand where it's going to happen, but it's absolutely going to hit me square in the wallet.”

All told, the damage exacted by the events here at home and in Japan totals more than the cataclysmic impact of hurricane Katrina back in 2005. And while rates are bound to climb again, like they did back then, they may not go nearly as high.

That's because tornadoes, earthquakes and tsunamis are viewed differently than hurricanes, especially if they happen in rural communities. Insurance companies are negotiating their re-insurance contracts this month, and industry expert Bob Lotane predicts rates could rise by as much as 20 percent but no more.

“I think we're going to see a harder market,” Lotane said. “it will probably... we're not going to see any lowering of prices, and that might have happened were it not for these events. And, in some instances we'll see some increases in prices.”

At least premiums aren't doubling or tripling like they did five years ago, but that's little consolation for Jack, whose savings account could be about to feel the pain.

“You're going to wipe that out so that 12 guys who are CEOs can have their wallets get a little bit fatter? I think it's taking advantage of people.”

...People here at home, before the tropics even begin to churn.

So far, the disaster in Japan and tornadoes in Alabama and Missouri have caused $70 billion in damages. That's about $5 billion more than hurricane Katrina.

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