South Florida homeowners are about to get hit with insurance rate increases unlike any other we’ve ever experienced.

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We’re talking as much as 30% to 40% over what you are paying now and price hikes of $1,000 or more for your next year of coverage.

Insurers have been warning for years that these increases would hit us hard. And now they’re here, thanks to years of rising claims abuses, court-clogging litigation, spiraling costs from hurricanes Irma and Michael, and one of the most active seasons in memory for severe and destructive weather.

When Weston resident Ruth Bettini opened her insurance renewal notice in September, “I almost died of shock,” she said. The annual premium to insure her $550,000 house with Orlando-based St. Johns Insurance Co. had increased by 28% — from $4,647 last year to $5,946 for the term beginning Oct. 1. That’s $108.25 more per month.

She asked her agent to shop for a lower price. “But everything else that was available cost even more than that, so I went ahead and renewed it.”

Bettini says her house is not what any insurer should consider a bad risk. Hurricane-rated accordion shutters cover all of her windows. All of her doors, including her garage door, are impact resistant. And she had her roof replaced a year ago to meet current windstorm codes. “I’ve done all the upgrades I can do to make it hurricane-proof,” she said.

As a real estate agent, Bettini says she worries about effects of the rising prices on her livelihood. “I’m really getting concerned when I see these insurance rates because I think they’re pricing people out of the market.”

Warnings about rising insurance rates might sound familiar. Prices in South Florida have been rising for the last five years, after a brief era

DES MOINES, Iowa — Crop loss estimates from a rare wind storm that slammed Iowa in August have increased by more than 50%, a new report shows.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture said Friday that the number of crop acres that Iowa farmers are unable to harvest has grown to 850,000 (343,983 hectares) from estimates last month that 550,000 acres (222,577 hectares) were lost, The Des Moines Register reported.

The storm, known as a derecho, generated winds of up to 140 mph that flattened crops. The damage then was compounded in late summer with a drought that, at its peak, encompassed much of the state. The drought is again expanding after some September rainfall.

A cornfield damaged in the derecho is seen on the Rod Pierce farm near Woodward, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)

CORONAVIRUS OUTBREAKS ON UTAH FARMS LEAVE 10,000 MINKS DEAD

Iowa Agriculture Secretary Mike Naig said he expects the number of lost acres will climb even more as growers move deeper into the harvest. Usually, farmers will try to harvest downed corn, salvaging what they can. But Naig said he said he has heard that many are asking crop insurance adjusters to take another look at their fields after finding it more difficult than expected.

“Crops can deteriorate,” said Naig, who was helping his father harvest corn in northwest Iowa. “It’s a really dynamic situation.”

Crop loss estimates from a rare wind storm that slammed Iowa in August have increased by more than 50%, a new report shows. (Photo by Daniel Acker/Getty Images)

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In eastern Iowa, Steve Swenka said harvesting his downed corn has “just been miserable.”

“I’ve seen the gamut: Corn down, flat as

(Bloomberg) — U.S. stocks rallied, with the S&P 500 posting its biggest weekly increase since July, as traders bet lawmakers are moving closer to providing more fiscal stimulus. Treasury yields were mostly flat and the dollar slipped.

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The benchmark equity gauge rose for a third day with President Donald Trump saying he now wants an even bigger package than what Democrats offered. For the week, the index finished up 3.8%. The tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 jumped 1.5% on Friday, with chip maker Xilinx Inc. leaping on a report it’s in advanced talks for a $30 billion takeover by rival Advanced Micro Devices Inc.

“We’ve had this whipsaw around wondering if there will be more fiscal stimulus, which I think we desperately need to keep the economy rolling,” said Ron Temple, head of U.S. equity at Lazard Asset Management LLC.

European stocks rose as a host of companies raised outlooks, from Denmark’s drugmaker Novo Nordisk A/S to German online clothing retailer Zalando SE. Stocks fell in Spain, where the government’s cabinet met to declare a state of emergency for Madrid to control Covid-19. Italy’s 10-year bond yield fell a record low.



chart: Stocks with high capex, cash returns or shaky finances are trailing the market


© Bloomberg
Stocks with high capex, cash returns or shaky finances are trailing the market

Investors ended a volatile week with a risk-on attitude. With Trump recuperating from Covid-19 in the final stretch of the election campaign, they’re increasingly betting a Joe Biden victory is likely. Speculation is moving now to whether Democrats will sweep Congress too and then enact massive stimulus.

“There’s also the possibly you could see a Democratic sweep in the election and that raises the prospects for higher taxes, which would be a negative, but also for really pronounced stimulus and that could take some of the more extreme risks off the table,” said Giorgio

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  • Many freelancers have taken a financial hit since the start of the pandemic, and most government relief has run out.
  • If you need to increase your cash flow to save or pay bills, financial planner Ben Henry-Moreland recommends looking first at your spending to see where you can cut back.
  • Then, look into any government programs that are still available, such as the EIDL, and consider reducing your health insurance costs if you’re able.
  • You can also reach out to your network to get more work, and reduce your quarterly tax payments to the IRS if your income has gone down.
  • Get Personal Finance Insider’s free guide to financial planners »

If you’re a freelancer like I am, you know just how hard it can be to manage your money. For one thing, budgeting on an inconsistent income is like taming a beast in the wild. And  trying to save? That can feel like a lofty aspiration to spot Big Foot. Take into account the financial curveball that the pandemic has thrown at us, and it makes saving that much more challenging.

Now that some of the government-funded programs made available to self-employed folks because of COVID-19, namely the Paycheck Protection Program and expanded unemployment benefits, have lapsed, freelancers might feel even more squeezed financially. So how can you save — or even just meet your basic financial needs — despite all these hurdles?

Ben Henry-Moreland, a financial planner and founder of Freelance Financial Planning, has some advice.

Focus on your spending 

The only way to manage inconsistent income is

Rates for individual coverage will increase overall by 0.2 percent and rates for small-group coverage, such as small businesses, will decrease by 0.5 percent, according to the D.C. Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking, which reviews and approves rates for the online marketplace.

The 2021 rates are a “big win for D.C. residents in making health care more affordable and accessible,” said William Borden, a professor of medicine and health policy at George Washington University. He pointed to how people have struggled to keep up with rising health insurance premiums, even before the novel coronavirus took hold.

“Having health insurance is clearly associated with better health outcomes, and so if there was going to be a sharp increase in insurance premiums that really could be devastating, especially as individuals, small businesses are already struggling financially,” Borden said.

Insurers initially asked for rate increases as high as 30 percent, but most of the insurers decreased their initial rate filings after a virtual public hearing in September.

During that hearing, leaders of the D.C. Health Benefit Exchange Authority, which operates D.C. Health Link, the online health insurance marketplace, advocated for premium reductions or freezing rates at 2020 levels. More than 30 people signed up to testify.

The gap between what insurers initially proposed and what the DISB approved after the hearing will save D.C. residents more than $17 million, according to the department’s news release Friday.

Open enrollment in the District runs from Nov. 1 through Jan. 31.

Other jurisdictions also have moved to limit increasing rates.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) approved an average 11.9 percent premium rate decrease for individual health insurance plans through Maryland Health Connection, the state-based health insurance marketplace, in 2021. This is the third consecutive year that individual premium rates have gone down in Maryland. Open