Flood Insurance Coming to Florida Insurers

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. Florida lawmakers moved a step closer to allowing private insurers to write flood insurance in Florida. The move comes as efforts to roll back huge rate increases has stalled in Congress. But, plenty of questions still remain.

Homeowners have seen flood insurance rates skyrocket. The culprit, a new federal law designed to make the rates financially sound. The problem. Big sticker shock instead of gradual increases for homeowners.

Florida has been one of the largest contributors to the national flood insurance program.

Three of every four dollars Floridians spend on flood insurance go to pay claims in other states. Under the Floridian plan, homeowners would be allowed to reduce coverage as their mortgage goes down.

The bill’s Sponsor, Jeff Brandes of St. Petersburg told a Senate Committee the bill will help people stay in their homes. “and I believe without the bill, homeowners would not have this option.”

The legislation brought tough questions from Reggie Garcia of the Florida Justice Association. “Lot’s of limitations. This is essentially unregulated rates.”

“Lawmakers raised concerns over how policy holders would find out what’s not covered in here. The fight’s over either putting those exclusions on the front page, or burying them inside.”

Senator Jack Latvala of Pinellas County says concerns were raised over the complexity of the legislation. “I’m just a little bit reluctant to vote on a strike everything amendment when I don’t know what’s in their and I don’t fully understand.”

In the end the committee approved the bill, but only after the promise of more scrutiny from the insurance committee. It was that scrutiny that won Arthenia Joyner’s vote. “We want to make sure its right. We don;t want people paying for something and at the end of the day they can get nothing,”

The state insurance program would sunset after ten years.

It has been 40 years since private companies sold flood insurance policies in Florida. If the legislation becomes law, those companies could begin selling polices later this year.

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