Homeowners InsuranceOwning and buying a home in Florida is changing for the better as we get into the new year. With the overall lack of severe tropical storms in the last few years—the Sun Sentinel reports that the state has gotten lucky with nine consecutive storm seasons rolling in and out with little more than some heavy rain—the insurance market is finally recovering from the financial damage of the last major hurricane 10 years ago. Considering the fact that the National Association of Insurance Commissioners notes property insurance in Florida as increasing by more than 90 percent between 2003 and 2010, the insurance market getting back on its feet is like a relief effort for the financial instability left in the wake of these dramatic premium increases.

Now, insurance companies are back and writing policies throughout the state. It’s now possible to shop for insurance within your county rather than just accepting the only game in town, high prices and all. With Florida’s crazy weather, good homeowner’s insurance is an absolute necessity; residents’ policies must cover hurricanes and floods, along with the wind and water damage they cause more or less without question, which makes it no big surprise that the last major hurricane knocked a great deal of insurance companies out of the state entire, mostly due to major financial loss from the huge quantity of claims filed. This left many homeowners and buyers in a lurch, incapable of both shopping around for the best rates and obtaining good coverage within their home budget. With no competition, it was easy for the remaining insurance companies to raise premiums to astronomical levels in spite of the last decade’s fair weather.

Florida Trend reports that in 2013, over 75 percent of Florida homeowners had private insurance, insurance companies using profits from low-income counties to subsidize insurance in wealthier counties. This means that not only could these lower income residents not find better rates for their required policies, but they also had to pay more than their wealthier neighbors.

Now that the market has begun to recover, however, this is changing dramatically. Now these price-gouging insurance companies are forced to play by the free market rules, and as such offer competitive rates throughout the state instead of just in the counties with residents to whom money is no object. This not only makes it easier to obtain coverage on a budget, it also allows new residents to search for and purchase homes in the areas they’re really interested in without worrying about not being able to afford the insurance required. This is one change that isn’t just impacting current residents, but future residents—and the influx of residents, home purchases, property sales and more could buoy up the state economy, speeding up recovery from the recession.

At the end of the day, it’s great to see the insurance market finally stabilizing and moving back in, repairing the damage done by the dramatic natural disasters that tore through the state over a decade ago. It’s good news for homeowners, great news for buyers, and better news for insurance companies: competition drives the free market, and getting it moving again is a benefit to everyone involved.