Property insurance rose steadily over the past eight years, causing many homeowners to drop their insurance policies, according to a new report from real estate listing service Trulia, citing goverment sources.

Losses to residential and commercial properties from Hurricane Matthew, which just swept the Southeast coast, totaled between $4 and $6 billion from wind and storm surge damage, according to CoreLogic

As it turns out, the damage may be much more than that. The Southeast saw the highest increase in prices for property insurance, and therefore the steepest drop in policies, according to Trulia’s report, which used the most recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau. This shows that many who were hit by the storm could have been uninsured.

The U.S. Census Bureau reported in 2014 that in the Southeast region’s biggest cities the number of insured households dropped between seven and 12 percentage points.

In Miami, for example, homeowners with property insurance dropped to 78% in 2014 versus 90% in 2006. The Tampa-St. Petersburg, Florida area dropped the most to 79%, down from 92%.

While the number of homeowners with property insurance dropped to 89.2%, down from 94.1% eight years ago, almost all major southeastern metropolitan areas had insurance rates below this average.

While the U.S. Census Bureau only accounted for primary mortgage insurance, many disaster insurances, such as hurricane insurance, require the homeowner to have a standard policy before adding a hurricane policy. 

According to Trulia, two major factors contributed to the decline in homeowners using property insurance:

  • Many mortgage companies require a homeowner’s policy as a condition of the home loan. Therefore, when homeowners pay off their mortgages, they decide to forgo insurance.
  • Homeowner’s insurance is expensive and has become more expensive during the last eight years, with premiums climbing 28.2% nationally. In fact, 10 of the 25 most expensive markets for homeowner’s insurance are in the Southeast.

While many homeowners in the hurricane’s path didn’t have property insurance, there are other relief options that can help them in the aftermath.

Until homeowners can find a way to recover from the recent losses caused by the hurricane, Airbnb, an app that helps people find short-term rentals, is helping homeowners offer space in their homes for free to those whose homes were damaged or destroyed by Hurricane Matthew. Just click here, then select your area, and select either that you want to offer up your home for free, or that you need a home.

Also, for homeowners who need temporary relief from mortgage payments, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac both sent out notices that homeowners in the region impacted by Hurricane Matthew have several mortgage assistance programs available to them.

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