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Data trove shows insurers hike rates in disaster areas

By Avery Ellfeldt | 07/08/2024 07:07 AM EDT

First-of-its-kind research pinpoints climate change as a driver of higher costs.

Flames from a wildfire approach homes in Malibu, California, in 2018.

Flames from a wildfire approach homes in Malibu, California, in 2018. David McNew/Getty Images

Climate-threatened homeowners across the country could see their annual property insurance premiums spike by at least $700 in 30 years, a new analysis says, exacerbating large cost increases that have hit households since 2020.

Researchers with the University of Pennsylvania and University of Wisconsin, Madison, created a dataset using information from 12 million mortgage escrow accounts, which homeowners use to pay their mortgage interest, property taxes and insurance premiums.

They found that property insurance premiums have on average since 2020 — and that they will likely keep rising. The dataset offers “unprecedented” insight into how insurance markets are responding to natural disasters and how prices could intensify with climate change, the researchers said.

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“It’s a novel approach” that addresses the “real dearth” of data on insurance, said report co-author Benjamin Keys, a real estate and finance professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School.

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