According to the Insurance Information Institute, an industry trade group, property and casualty insurers have not, as a whole, earned profits on underwriting — or as a result of their overall business activities — in Florida since 2016. The industry’s cumulative underwriting losses have topped $1 billion for the last three years. Last year, the institute said, insurers’ cumulative net income losses in the state totaled $900 million.

“While some states have very bad years financially, like Louisiana in 2020 and 2021 due to the record level of hurricanes, no other state has reported sustained losses for property insurers like Florida has since its last profitable year in 2016,” said Mark Friedlander, a spokesman for the institute, which represents consumer insurance companies.

“The problem is that there’s denial among folks that live in Florida and folks that live in California — and, frankly, the American population — about the dangers that we’re facing,” Mr. Schwarcz said.

His proposed solution: Let insurers charge whatever they want to for policies in disaster-prone areas. Eventually, that would lead people to stop building homes and businesses that were very likely to be destroyed by natural disasters. “That would actually result in a more resilient infrastructure, more adaptive to climate change.”

Birny Birnbaum, an insurance expert who is the executive director of the Center for Economic Justice, a nonprofit working toward equal access to economic opportunity, said Mr. Schwarcz’s idea — letting market forces dictate how homeowners respond to climate change risks — would not fly.

“That’s like saying, ‘As long as I can keep paying more and more each year, I don’t care if my house burns down because there will always be more to pay for it,’” Mr. Birnbaum said. “That’s insane.”

Insurers in Florida and other states where the disaster threats are higher, like California, are struggling because the reinsurance companies they’re turning to for help managing their risks are charging too much, and no one is regulating them, Mr. Birnbaum said.


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