Experts warn more severe weather in our region could cause higher insurance rates

ATLANTA — As severe storms pounded north Georgia on Tuesday, the financial reality of trying to repair a home came into focus once again for those impacted by the storms.

The damage could happen to any of us, and Channel 2 investigative reporter Nicole Carr found out that the costs of cleanup could be on the rise.

In nearly four decades of living in southwest Atlanta, James Campbell said he’s never seen anything like what blew through his yard the last two days.

“I was trying to decide if I wanted to move down to a lower level and as I was thinking about that a tree crashed into the wall,” Campbell said.

Carr caught up with Campbell Tuesday afternoon as an insurance adjuster and contractors were heading out.

What the damage means for future rates is the furthest thing from his mind.

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“What can you say? It’s just the times we’re in so, I don’t know,” Campbell said. “You may not see those higher deductibles they have in the Midwest yet, but there’s potential it could happen at some point.”

Experts are watching what happens to both personal and commercial property, and the southern region has seen more severe weather damage more frequently in the past decade.

We turned to insurance wholesale broker and underwriter Burns & Wilcox to talk about what we may expect in our area soon.

“Obviously what will happen is in certain geographical areas-whether it’s by county or by zip code, there’s going to be some higher rates for homeowners and or for commercial properties because of these losses that have occurred,” said Barry Whitton, managing director of Burns & Wilcox.

Whitton added that he doesn’t expect to see insurance carriers pull out of the marketplace, but he does expect that some may not pick up new customers as frequently, opting to re-underwrite insurance they already have, meaning the possibility for those higher deductibles in the near future.

“It may not be every carrier does that because there are some carriers that may not have a big exposure base in Georgia. And there’s something that have a huge exposure base in Georgia,” Whitton said.

As a consumer, you need to be asking questions. Go ahead and pose the possibility of a rate hike with your agent. Figure out if it’s time to shop around.

And remember, if you’re getting unsolicited help at your door — maybe a tree removal service, some business the insurance company did not send your way — background check those people for their business license and make sure they lay out a service contract.

This is the time when you’re most vulnerable and you’ll have people showing up at your doorstep.