WASHINGTON — Soaring costs of homeowners insurance has become a crisis in Florida, and between bad storms and other factors, the rates keep rising as companies move out of the market.
What You Need To Know
- Florida residents have seen dramatic increases in the cost of property insurance recently
- Experts say the growing risk of catastrophic hurricanes, labor shortages caused by the pandemic and fraudulent claims are causing companies to stop doing business in Florida altogether
- The Florida Legislature is scheduled to hold a special session next week to work on addressing the issue
Next week Florida's state legislature is holding a special session on property insurance reform — Gov. Ron DeSantis says the goal is to stabilize the market.
Florida resident Jason Battle says dealing with homeowners insurance has been frustrating. In February last year, his policy unexpectedly jumped from about $2,400 to around $4,000. And, this past September, he was dealt another blow when he filed a claim.
"A tree fell on my roof and so I filed insurance for it, and then after filing for the insurance they just dropped after that," he said.
Battle says his insurance carrier dropped his coverage about two months ago because it couldn’t agree with his contractor over the amount of repairs necessary.
He has a policy with another insurer now, but said something needs to be done to reform property insurance in the state.
Citing the growing risk of catastrophic hurricanes, labor shortages caused by the pandemic and fraudulent claims, some insurance companies are getting out of Florida.
"You have all these factors coming together, which are having an impact on why you're seeing rates go up, you know, so high over the past four or five years," said Federal Association for Insurance Reform President Paul Handerhan.
"We have 8% of the property claims nationwide, and we have 78% of the litigation nationwide," DeSantis said Monday. "That is causing these premiums to escalate."
Democratic congressman Charlie Crist, who is running for governor in Florida, said he has little faith DeSantis and the Republican-controlled legislature will approve reforms beneficial to homeowners.
Crist has introduced legislation in Congress that he says would drive premiums lower by creating a "federal backstop for catastrophic losses," allowing insurance carriers to purchase less reinsurance.
"If we reduce how much they have to have in reinsurance, that savings that insurance companies get can be passed on to the consumer, lowering the cost of insurance, statewide and nationwide for homeowners in Florida and the country," Crist said.
Crist's bill does not currently have any co-sponsors yet, leading some experts to say it faces long odds for passage.
Battle said he doesn't know what the best solution is, but that lawmakers at all levels of government should be working to fix the problem.
"They should all work together local, federal and state," he said. "The key is people have to live here. So we need to be happy insured, and that's important."